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Catching Fire: The Story of Arson

Posted on in Criminal Defense

felony, malicious destruction of property, Wisconsin defense attorney, negligent actHistorically, arson was narrowly defined as the malicious burning of the dwelling of another. This meant that you could only be charged with arson if you intentionally burned the residence of another. Today, especially under Wisconsin law, arson is a felony and has been expanded to include, by means of fire, the intentional burning of a building of another, without consent. This definition includes any building, or structure. You could even be charged of arson if you burned a motor vehicle.

Arson is a serious property damage crime and if you are convicted of arson, you could face steep fines and a lengthy prison sentence. There are distinctions in the law that determines the fines and possible jail time you could face if found guilty of arson. If you are found to have intentionally burned a building, you will face much more serious fines and jail time than if you were found to have negligently burned the building. Likewise, if you burn your residence down to collect the insurance money, you could be charged with arson and insurance fraud.

Primarily, a charge of arson requires that the perpetrator maliciously intended to cause the fire that burns a building. But, if you show that you accidentally started a fire, you could not be convicted of arson. Even if you acted negligently, by leaving the stove on in your home or burning wood in your fireplace, you could not be charged with arson because you did not intend to burn the building down.

If you or someone you know is charged with arson, you should contact an experienced arson defense attorney to help you fight the charges.

Arson Today, Possible Jail Time Tomorrow

The punishments associated with arson can be severe because fires have the potential to swiftly spread to nearby properties and have the ability to cause many injuries or even death. Under Wisconsin law, if you are found to have intentionally burned a building, you will be charged with a Class C felony that is punishable by up to 40 years in prison and possible fines up to $100,000. However, if you are accused of intentionally damaging another’s property by fire, you will be charged with a Class I Felony that carries a sentence up to 3.5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. But, if you accidentally or negligently caused the fire, you could face less severe consequences or quite possibly, none at all.

As you can see, being charged with arson today could lead to a substantial amount of fines or jail time tomorrow. You should contact an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who will be able to navigate the fiery waters of arson and assist you in putting the fire out.

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