Memphis Arson Lawyer
Arson Defense in Tennessee
Arson offenses are quite common throughout the state of Tennessee. Many of the fires that occur are arson related. In fact, in the span of 10 months (July 2011- May 2012), there were a total of 89 arson linked fires. That is 67% of the fires that took place in that time period. Unfortunately, mistakes can also lead to arson charges. While some are purposeful in an attempt to get insurance money, some are also accidents. We have seen cases wherein people use arson as a way of revenge, arson due to psychological issues and due to the economy. If you have been charged with arson you are facing serious penalties and you need the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney in Memphis.
What constitutes 'arson' in TN?
There are a few different scenarios that could result in an arson charge. According to Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) § 39-14-303, setting fire to personal property or land could result in arson. This would be knowingly damaging land by use of fire or an explosion. One of the following must be true to result in arson:
- There was an intent to destroy the property for an unlawful purpose
- There was not consent from all parties with possession or interest in the property
This is considered a Class E felony punishable by jail time and fines. Someone could receive a Class A misdemeanor charge for reckless burning as well. This would involve a person recklessly setting fire to land and it escaping, resulting in the burning of someone's property. The most common arson offense is defined under T.C.A. 39-14-301, and it involves a person knowingly damaging any structure using fire or explosives without consent of all interested parties while having the intent to destroy or damage the structure. This can be done to collect insurance for the damage or any other unlawful purpose. Due to the fact that this is not only for personal property, the charges and penalties are greater.
Penalties for Arson in Tennessee
The state of Tennessee often charges arson offenses as a Class C felony. This level of crime is punishable by between three and 15 years in prison along with a fine of up to $10,000. Charges could be harsher if the offense involved arson of a place of worship. This would be charged as a Class B felony with more time in prison and a larger fine. Arson charges can also be aggravated and result in even greater consequences. In order for arson to be aggravated according to § 39-14-301 or § 39-14-303, one of the following must be true:
- One or more persons were present in the property or building
- A person suffers serious bodily harm due to the fire or explosion, this includes firefighters
Aggravated arson is charged as a Class A felony and the potential penalties include between 15 and 60 years in prison and fines of up to $50,000. If you have questions about an arson offense and the possible penalties do not hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to discuss your case with you.
Need an attorney for an arson case in Memphis, TN?
The penalties for this type of offense are serious and you need a skilled Memphis criminal defense lawyer to assist you. Our attorneys have the best possible rating on Avvo due to reviews from former clients and Attorney Ferguson is Certified as a Specialist in Criminal Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy with over 20 years of experience. We are familiar with the criminal proceedings for arson charges and we can help! Call The Claiborne Ferguson Law Firm, P.A. today for the aggressive and skilled representation that you need!