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Damaging a building by fire or through the use of explosives is a serious criminal offense, and it can have serious consequences. Not only that, but crimes like arson are very heavily prosecuted in the state of Florida. That’s why it’s crucial that those who are accused of arson seek personal legal counsel. 

If you have been accused of committing arson, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. Tampa criminal defense attorney Andrew Buda has an in-depth knowledge of Florida’s legal system and also has experience defending clients from a variety of criminal charges. 

We at Buda Law strive to provide each of our clients with the legal representation they deserve. Call (813) 322-2832 to schedule a free consultation where we’ll discuss your case and develop a plan of action. 

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Facing arson charges? Call Andrew Buda to schedule a free consultation at (813) 322-2832 today. 

What is Arson?

In general, arson is the crime of destroying a building, structure, or property by use of fire or explosive materials. People can be charged with arson under state law or under federal law, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime. 

The federal arson statute normally covers the burning of any building or structure used in foreign or interstate commerce. The burning of any other structure or property will normally fall under the state’s jurisdiction.

Some people commit arson to purposefully destroy another person’s dwelling or property, whereas others commit arson to destroy evidence of a crime or to file an insurance claim for the damages.

Tampa Arson Attorney

Florida Arson Definition

According to Florida law (Florida Statutes § 806.031), arson is any willing destruction of any structure through the use of fire or explosion. A structure is defined as any:

  • Building;
  • Enclosed area with a roof;  
  • Real property;
  • Tent or portable building; or
  • Vehicle, vessel, watercraft, or aircraft.

Arson crimes are separated into two degrees, with each degree having its own requirements and guidelines. There are also a number of other crimes related to arson that a person could be charged with in addition to first or second-degree arson.

Tampa Arson Defense Attorney

First-Degree Arson

First-degree arson is categorized as a level 7 offense within the Florida Criminal Punishment Code Scoresheet, underscoring its grave implications and the significant legal consequences it entails in the state. Someone can commit arson in the first degree if they willfully use fire or explosion to damage: 

  • A dwelling;
  • A structure that is normally occupied; or  
  • Any structure where the person accused of the crime knew or could have reasonably believed that it was occupied. 

Some of these structures include:

  • Homes
  • Apartment buildings
  • Health care facilities
  • Office buildings
  • Detention centers
  • Department stores
  • Nursing homes
  • Educational institutions during normal operating hours

Second-Degree Arson

Someone may be charged with arson in the second degree if they willfully use fire or explosion to damage any other structure or property that is not included in the provisions of first-degree arson. Some of these structures can include:

  • Tents
  • Portable buildings
  • Vehicles

A person can still be charged with arson in the second degree if they use fire to destroy property that they personally own. 

Arson Resulting in Bodily Harm

In addition to the above crimes, someone can be charged with a crime if they hurt someone as a result of arson.

If someone commits arson which causes any bodily harm to a firefighter or any person, they could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor. If someone commits arson which causes serious bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement to a firefighter or any person, they could be charged with a second-degree felony. 

The person accused of arson resulting in bodily harm does not need to be convicted of first or second-degree arson in order to be charged with these related crimes. This means that the prosecution does not need to prove that they intended to commit the crime or cause harm in order to convict someone of one of these offenses.

Tampa, FL Arson Lawyer

What are the Penalties for Arson Charges in Florida?

Tampa arson cases can have severe consequences, depending on the severity of the alleged crime or crimes. Below are the penalties for arson in the state of Florida:

  • If someone is convicted of first-degree arson in Florida, they could be charged with a first-degree felony, which is punishable by a fine of $10,000, up to 30 years in prison, or both. 
  • In Florida, if someone is convicted of second-degree arson, or commits arson that causes serious bodily harm to a firefighter or other person, they could be charged with a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies in Florida are punishable by a fine of $10,000, up to 15 years in prison, or both. 
  • If someone is convicted of arson resulting in personal injury, they could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines, up to 1 year in prison, or both. 

The penalties for misdemeanors in Florida are historically less harsh than the penalties for Florida felonies, but being convicted of any crime can have a serious negative impact on a person’s life.

If you are facing an arson charge in Florida, don’t panic. Experienced arson attorneys like those at Buda Law can help those accused of arson receive reduced sentences or even have their charges dropped altogether. Our Tampa federal defense attorneys may also be able to defend your rights in federal court, if you are charged with a federal crime.

Possible Defenses for Arson

There are a number of defenses that arson lawyers can utilize to defend against charges of arson. Some potential defenses include: 

  • The fire was started legally
  • The fire was unintentional
  • The charges are false
  • The defendant’s rights were violated by law enforcement

If you’re in need of arson defense in Tampa, the experts at Buda Law are here to help. We can investigate the circumstances surrounding your alleged crime and help develop a strong defense against your charges. 

Arson Charges in Florida

Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney 

Arson is a very serious crime, and an arson charge could potentially put you behind bars for decades. Additionally, an arson crime is usually associated with one or more other criminal acts like insurance fraud or homicide. In that case, the person accused could be facing a lengthy prison sentence and a number of other penalties related to their charges.

That’s why it’s so important that those accused of arson seek help from an experienced legal professional. Arson lawyers can defend against these charges in court and can also negotiate with prosecutors to help their clients receive desirable plea agreements.

If you are arrested on charges of arson, Tampa criminal defense lawyer Andrew Buda can help develop a strong defense strategy to ensure you receive a favorable outcome for your case. Call our law office at (813) 322-2832 to schedule a free initial case evaluation with us today.

Call Tampa Arson Lawyer Andrew Buda at Buda Law Today

Being charged with arson can be incredibly stressful, not only because of the potential legal repercussions, but also because of the social and personal consequences of a serious criminal conviction. 

If you have been accused of purposefully setting fire to a building or structure, you are not alone. Attorney Andrew Buda has years of experience serving the residents of the Tampa Bay area, and he is prepared to help provide you with the arson defense you need. 

In addition to defending against arson charges, our law firm can help defend against charges of other crimes, including violent crimes, theft crimes, drug crimes, DUI, and more. Call our Tampa office today at (813) 322-2832 or contact us online and schedule a free consultation so that we can discuss your case.


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