Arson occurs when an individual knowingly attempts to burn a structure. In Colorado there are four classes of arson and the penalties for each class vary substantially. Investigators will look at the circumstances surrounding the burning of the structure and whether life was put at risk of injury or death. The value of the structure will be an important factor as well as whether the structure was a residence and what time of day the burning occurred. Many people associate arson with burning a building to collect insurance money. If this is the case the individual will be charged with insurance theft and fraud related crimes. If individuals are in the home or put at a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death, attempted murder charges could accompany the arson charges. In these serious situations, the individual is facing a mandatory prison sentence. It is essential to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as the investigation commences and before charges are filed to make sure your rights are protected. No one needs to talk with police or make any statements. Any statements can later be used against the individual. Having an attorney review the case and advise you how to proceed ensures your rights are protected. Innocent people can be the suspect of an investigation and police can botch evidence and jump to inaccurate conclusions. If you are facing charges for arson or are being investigated for arson, contact the Denver criminal defense attorneys at Steven Louth Law Offices for a free consultation.
First Degree Arson
A person will be charged with first degree arson if they are accused of knowingly setting a fire or causing any building of another person or any occupied structure to be burned, damaged or destroyed without that persons consent. First degree arson is a class three felony. First degree arson is defined under Colorado law as a crime of violence and an extraordinary risk crime. Anyone convicted of first degree arson is looking at a mandatory minimum ten year sentence in the department of corrections. Reaching out to a attorney immediately can ensure your rights are protected. One essential constitutional right is to have an attorney who can advise you not to make any statements. Our attorneys ensure any searches and warrants are executed correctly. We work closely with investigators who may interview witnesses or conduct their own investigation to dispute the claims of the police.
Second Degree Arson
Second degree arson occurs when an individual knowingly sets fire to, or burns, or attempts to burn and causes any damage to another person’s property, other than a building or occupied structure. For example, if an individual sets fire to a person’s unoccupied barn they will be charged with second degree arson. Second degree arson is a class four felony if the damage was $100 or more, but a class two misdemeanor if the damage was less than $100.
Third Degree Arson
Third degree arson is committed when an individual intentionally damages, by means of fire, any property with the intent to defraud. This is a class four felony. This is the crime most people associate with arson. If an individual sets fire to their business or home to collect the insurance payout, they are committing this crime. If the fire is accidental, then no crime has occurred. The prosecution has the burden to prove this crime has occurred intentionally beyond a reasonable doubt. Having a defense attorney protecting your rights will ensure police do not elicit statements that can be used to convict you.
Fourth Degree Arson
A person who knowingly or recklessly starts or maintains a fire on his own property or that of another and places another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury, or places any building or occupied structure in danger of damage commits this crime. Fourth degree arson is a class four felony if a person was endangered, a class two misdemeanor if only property was in danger and the value of such property is $100 or more, and a class three misdemeanor if only property was in danger and the value of such property was below $100. It is not an offense if a person starts a fire as a controlled agricultural burn in a cautious manner and no person suffers any injuries.
As with other criminal cases, each element of the offense must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to get a jury to convict the accused individual. The defense team at Steven Louth Law Offices is committed to ensuring the police and prosecutors play by the rules and our client’s rights are protected. We review the facts of the case, the evidence obtained during the investigation and our client’s account of what occurred to prepare our defense strategy. We may push for a favorable plea deal, a dismissal or take the case before a jury for an acquittal.
Steven Louth Law Offices
We have two attorneys, Steve Louth and his son Zach Louth who dedicate their practice exclusively to criminal defense. We practice in Denver, Boulder and across the front range. Steve Louth has over twenty-five years experience handling criminal cases on both the prosecution and defense side. He began his career serving as a deputy district attorney for eight years before leaving to start his private practice. If you have been charged with a crime contact our Denver attorneys at Steven Louth Law Offices for a free case evaluation regarding your arson charges.