Arson is committed when someone intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly sets fire to a property. Even if the accused person owns the property he is accused of setting fire to, he can still be charged with arson. This is a serious crime in the state of Colorado, so it’s important to understand the charges against you and the penalties that you may face.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor Arson in Colorado
Arson can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor in Colorado, depending on the details of the crime. It may be charged as a felony if:
- The crime was committed with the intent to defraud, or
- You knowingly or intentionally committed the crime, or
- The property involved was a building or occupied structure.
You may be charged with misdemeanor arson if:
- The fire does not put anyone at risk of being harmed, or
- The fire causes less than $100 in damage, or
- The property involved was not a building or occupied structure, and there was no fraudulent intent.
There are four degrees of arson in Colorado: first, second, third, and fourth degree arson. First degree and third degree arson are felonies, while second and fourth degree arson can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony.
Penalties for Arson in Colorado
If you are convicted of committing arson, you may face serious penalties that could affect you for the rest of your life. The penalties that you face will depend on whether you are charged with first, second, third, or fourth degree arson. First-degree arson carries the most severe penalties, including up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000. Fourth degree arson is the least serious of arson crimes. If you are facing fourth degree misdemeanor arson charges, you will still face up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750.
How Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Defend Arson Charges
Criminal charges do not always lead to criminal convictions. A criminal defense attorney may be able to defend you against arson charges and help you avoid some of the penalties associated with committing this crime. The defense strategy used in your case will depend on a number of factors, but some of the most common defenses include:
- You have been mistakenly identified
- You did not intentionally set the fire
- The fire was not caused by arson
In some cases, it may be appropriate to choose a defense strategy that could lower your charges. For example, if you have been charged with third degree arson because you intended to defraud someone by committing arson, an attorney may be able to prove that you did not have this intent, and therefore should face lesser charges.
Seek Legal Representation From an Experienced Arson Attorney
When you hire an attorney to defend you against criminal charges, you are putting your future in their hands. Don’t make the mistake of choosing an attorney who does not have the experience or legal knowledge to protect your future. Contact our team of experienced arson attorneys today by calling 303-291-0555 to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.