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Arson is one of the oldest crimes on the books in Ohio. If you are suspected of committing arson, then you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney to represent you. Prosecutors take arson crimes very seriously, especially when valuable buildings or government land is destroyed. Reach out to Groth & Associates to speak with one of our attorneys. We can get to work on your case right away to protect your rights as a criminal suspect.
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Ohio’s Arson Statute
You can find the state’s statute on arson and related offenses at ORC 2909.03. It covers damage, or the substantial risk of damage to property by fire or explosion without the owner’s consent. It also covers damage to government buildings and government lands like parks and forest.
It is also illegal to burn your own property or land with a fraudulent intent, such as trying to obtain insurance proceeds. Please note that it is illegal to burn or damage property even if it is not occupied. So it is arson to burn down an abandoned building.
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IF SOMEONE SHOULD DIE IN THE FIRE OR EXPLOSION, THEN THE DEFENDANT IS PROBABLY LOOKING AT A MURDER CHARGE.
Aggravated arson is a more serious crime and it covers two situations:
- When the fire or explosion injures someone other than the person committing the crime. This can include a firefighter trying to beat back the blaze.
- When the fire or explosion targets an occupied building. This would cover trying to burn a home while people are asleep inside or even during the day if people are inside.
It should not be surprising that it is a more serious crime to physically injure someone or to create the risk of injuring people who are in the building at the time. Also, if someone should die in the fire or explosion, then the defendant is probably looking at a murder charge.
Penalties for Arson
Arson can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. For example, if you damage property that is worth $1,000 or more, then it is a felony in the fourth degree. However, if the property’s value is under $1,000, then it is usually a first-degree misdemeanor.
Aggravated arson for damaging a person or occupied structure is a more serious offense and can be charged as either a first-degree or second-degree felony. These are some of the most serious crimes you can commit in Ohio.
The penalties are steep. Felony aggravated arson could land you in jail anywhere from 6 months to 5 years, possibly longer. You will also have to pay additional fines.
Many arson defendants also are sued by insurance companies for the money paid out on the claim, which could be considerable. For example, if you burned down your home and collected $200,000 in proceeds, you’ll probably have to pay that amount back, even if you have already spent the money. A defendant might also need to pay Toledo for the cost of putting out the fire.
Defenses to Arson
Arson cases can be tricky because many buildings and structures legitimately catch on fire. The cause might be faulty wiring, a defective chimney, or a kitchen fire that goes out of control. Insurance companies and government agencies will closely investigate the damaged property to uncover whether the fire was intentional. If it was, insurers will not cover the claim and the government will begin looking for a suspect.
The most common defense to arson is that the fire was accidental. Another defense is that someone did indeed commit arson, but the police have the wrong person. Some arson cases involve surveillance video that can be grainy and unclear. It is not surprising if the police often focus on the property owner and arrest the wrong person.
Each case is different. Unlike other Toledo law firms, Groth & Associates does not use off-the-rack defense strategies. Instead, we dig into the fact that the police have and identify gaps and holes that the prosecutor wants to overlook.
Picked Up for Arson? We Can Help
Criminal defense cases take time. As seasoned arson defense lawyers, we know how to comb through the state’s case and collect evidence that shows you are not guilty of the offense. If you hire us, you will get an aggressive criminal defense. As attorneys, we keep our eyes on both the details and the big picture.
Contact Groth & Associates today. Our arson defense lawyers in Toledo have decades of experience, and our founder worked for years as a former felony prosecutor, so we know how the other side thinks. You can schedule a free consultation with one of our Toledo arson defense attorneys by calling (419) 930-3030.