The Serious Consequences of an Arson Charge

 Posted on February 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, ied possessionArson is a particularly violent offense with potentially devastating effects on life as well as property. In the state of Illinois, possible charges related to the crime of arson are plentiful. They address the preparation involved in committing the offense, along with the actual act and resulting losses. According to recent reports, officials in Marissa, Illinois are dealing with a series of arsons throughout the town. Investigators are actively investigating the incidents and when arrests are made, the accused will likely face numerous charges.

What is Arson

The Illinois statute defines arson as the destruction of individual's property, valued at $150 or more, by setting it on fire. You can also face arson charges for setting your own property on fire, if it is done with the intention of defrauding an insurance company. There are varying levels of the arson offense:

  • Residential arson occurs when the fire damage is directed towards a residential dwelling;
  • Place of worship arson applies when the offense is directly committed against a place of worship or one is damaged/ destroyed as a result of arson against another structure;
  • Aggravated arson occurs when a first responder is injured in the fire. It also applies when the offender knows that the targeted building is occupied and the fire causes death or bodily harm to one of the occupants; and
  • Possession of explosives or incendiary devices is a charge that applies when an individual:
  • Possesses;               
  • Manufacturers; or               
  • Transports any explosive compound or incendiary device;
  • With the intent to use the devices in commission of an offense.   

When a structural fire occurs, officials must determine its origin. While this task is sometimes completed without issue, the cause is often hard to identify or raises some level of suspicion. When this is the case, an arson investigator is brought in to investigate the incident. Based upon their findings, arson charges may be filed against suspected individuals.

The Possible Consequences

Arson is classified as a Class 2 felony within the state of Illinois and carries a possible sentence of three to seven years imprisonment. Residential and place of worship arson are classified as Class 1 felonies, with a possible sentence of four to 15 years imprisonment. Aggravated arson is an extremely serious charge, classified as a Class X Felony. These types of felonies carry mandatory imprisonment of six to 30 years imprisonment. However, it is not unusual to see a sentence as high as 60 years for incidents resulting in loss of life. Possession of explosives is a Class 1 felony, with a sentence of four to 30 years.

Defending an Arson Charge

The seriousness of an arson conviction necessitates the assistance of an experienced attorney early in the charging process. Pre-trial investigations and evidence gathering are crucial to the prosecution in an arson case. Having an attorney to represent you early in the process not only protects your rights, but also increases the chance of identifying evidence that can assist in your defense.

If you have or a loved one has been charged with arson, allow criminal defense attorney Hal M. Garfinkel to provide you with a vigorous defense. Contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney today at 312-629-0669 for a free consultation.

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