Daytona Beach Arson Defense Lawyer
Defending Clients from Offices in Daytona Beach & DeLand
Arson, as outlined in Florida Statute 806.01, is the willful and unlawful damage to a structure due to fire or explosion. Key in this definition is intent. It must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged with the crime must have intended to cause damage, and this burden of proof is on the prosecutor. Evidence in these cases can vary from eyewitness statements and camera footage to analyzing the origin of the flames or the potential fuel that was allegedly used. Because of these nuances, arson cases can be complex, which is why it is vital that you have a attorney to represent your side of the story and stand up for your rights in court.
What Is Arson?
Arson is when any person willingly and unlawfully damages a structure or dwelling through the use of fire or explosion. Florida statute defines a “structure” as a building of any kind; any enclosed area with a roof over it; any tent or portable building; or any vehicle, vessel, watercraft, or aircraft. A dwelling is a structure that can be reasonable believed to be occupied by a human. You can be charged with arson if you are accused of willingly setting fire or causing an explosion to any of these types of property.
Felony Arson Charges
There are different levels of arson, depending on the severity of the crime. Second degree arson is a Level 7 offense, and a conviction brings up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. More severe offenses can be charged with arson in the first degree, otherwise known as a first-degree felony. In order to be charged with arson in the first degree, the state has to prove the following:
- That you willingly and knowingly set fire or caused an explosion to the following structures:
- Any dwelling, occupied or not (meaning a home with, regardless of whether anyone is present or at home at the time the arson is alleged to have been committed), or
- Any structure where people are normally present (like a store open to the public), or
- Any other structure that you had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied by a human being.
If you are charged with arson in the first degree and found guilty, you will be convicted of a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, and up to $100,000 in fines. You will also have a permanent criminal record, which can further hinder your employment, housing, and job opportunities in the future.
Aggravating Factors to Arson Charges
Arson, like other criminal charges in the State of Florida, has aggravating circumstances that can worsen your charge or tack on additional penalties. If the prosecutor can prove that theft was a motivating factor, for example, or if someone was killed, the accused may face much harsher punishment. Penalties are also severe if the structure in question was a public space, such as a church, shopping mall, or other highly trafficked area.
This is why is so important to have someone knowledgeable fighting for you. Committing arson is a very serious offense that can change your life, or the life of someone you love, forever. Attorney Matthew Thompson has years of experience that he can bring to your case. As a former prosecutor, he can leverage his knowledge from all sides of the law in order to craft a defense unique to your situation. Attorney Thompson is dedicated to giving his clients the time and attention they need to help put their lives back together after an arrest.
Client was texting a friend when her significant other tried to grab for her phone. When the client tried to pull away, the victim claimed that he was battered and the client was arrested and brought before DCF due a child being in the house. Attorney Matt Thompson wrote a letter to the State explaining the discrepancy in evidence and claimed that the client was in fact moving away from the victim and did not intentionally try to hit the victim. All charges against the client were dismissed.
Sale and Possession of Heroin
Defendant entered a treatment facility while case was pending. Attorney Thompson provided progress reports of all of her progress during her stay to show improvement. State agreed to amend all charges to simple possession and the Defendant was sentenced into Drug Court.
Aggravated Assault with a Firearm
Client was accused of shooting a shotgun over the head of two minors. Attorney Thompson did a public records request to discover that officers reported to the scene of the crime the night of the incident and spoke to the victims on the evening the alleged crime occurred and believed the victims to be intoxicated and unreliable. Attorney Thompson conducted depositions of the officers and ultimately all charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and no incarceration.
Grand Theft, Fleeing, Possession of a Fictitious Driver’s License
Attorney Matt Thompson, through depositions and litigation was able to show that officers did not act according to the warrant by picking up the client immediately upon sight. The charge of Fleeing or Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement, which carries a mandatory felony conviction, was dismissed by the State and the client was offered probation and no felony conviction.
Sexual Battery & Domestic Battery
Mr. Thompson took depositions of the victim showing that the victim was not truthful with police when she provided her statement as to what happened. Confronted victim with social media posts, bank records, and telephone records to show that she was not in the places that she stated she was during the time the alleged crime took place. Case 1 was dismissed and the Defendant pled to Case 2 and received two (2) years of prison and credit for fifteen (15) months in prison.
Over 15 Years of ExperienceThere's no substitute for experience. When faced with a serious crime, you need an attorney who has successfully handled numerous cases like yours.
Aggressive Trial AttorneyMatt Thompson is a skilled trial attorney and has achieved many positive jury verdicts. If your case goes to trial, you can be confident that Matt is equipped to represent you.
High-Quality Legal RepresentationAt Thompson Law, P.A., every client matters. This means that your case will receive the personal attention and care it deserves.
Criminal Defense Is All We DoBecause our firm only focuses on criminal defense matters, you can trust our team has the specific knowledge needed to handle you case successfully.