Arson is a very serious crime, no matter where it occurs. In Phoenix or anywhere in the state of Arizona, per A.R.S. §13-1703 and §13-1704, the crime occurs when an individual knowingly and deliberately damages property or a structure by starting a fire or by creating an explosion.
Punishment for Arson in Arizona
The specific punishment an individual receives for the crime of arson depends on the severity of the fire and a few other aspects. If it is found the individual is guilty of causing a fire and the building was occupied, it is generally charged as a felony in the second class. Punishment involves probation and zero days to a year in jail or prison for three to 12 and a half years. With a prior conviction for starting a fire, punishment is time in prison from four and a half to 23 and one quarter years. With two prior convictions, prison term can last a decade plus six months, up to 35 years.
If the building was not occupied as the individual was allegedly starting a fire, or if the property that was burned carries a value greater than $1,000, he or she can be charged with a class four felony for Arson. The punishment for this level of the crime may be probation and zero days to one year in jail or prison that lasts one year to three and three quarters time incarcerated. In the case of an individual who has one prior conviction, the prison term will range anywhere from two and one quarter to seven and a half years. However, if the person has two previous convictions, the prison only time served will be six to 15 years. If the property that was damaged is more than $100 but does not exceed $1,000, the individual can be charged with a class five felony. Punishment may be probation with no jail time to as much as one year served or a prison sentence ranging from six months to two and half years. With two prior felony convictions, the individual can serve as much as three to seven and one-half years in prison.
In the instance the property is $100 or less in value, the crime can be charged as a class one misdemeanor. This charge carries a punishment of probation with zero to up to six months of jail time and a fine of $2,500 with a surcharge of 84 percent. If a person or persons are injured as a result of the fire, there is an additional charge of Aggravated Assault placed upon the individual. The level of severity depends on how bad the injuries are.
Legal Defenses for Arson Charges in Arizona
Defenses in this type of case involve the criminal defense lawyer showing that the defendant did not have necessary intent, that they did not start the fire at all or that the individual did not intend to start or cause a fire. The attorney will explain how there are a number of items in the average household that can result in a fire, including one that burns a building thoroughly to the ground.
Other defenses for a person accused of causing a fire involve violation of Miranda rights, which means the accused was not properly administered their Miranda Rights during arrest, the police intimidating the person into falsely confessing, denial of counsel where the individual requested to speak to an attorney but was not given that right and investigation for forensic flaws throughout the case.
If you are accused of Arson in Arizona, it is imperative that you hire a strong defense team to fight the charges. DM Cantor has handled many Arson cases and achieved positive results for our clients. To schedule a free case review, please call our offices 24 hours a day at (602) 737-2812 or send us an email using our confidential form.