When someone is accused of a property crime, such as arson, they may imagine that the charge is not all that serious. If nobody was physically injured, if the crime only harmed the property, then it is natural to assume that this isn’t anywhere near as serious as a crime that actually physically hurt someone. However, if you think that you won’t face serious consequences for arson or any other property crime, you are mistaken. To fully understand why these charges are so serious, let’s look at how property crimes do cause actual damage to people, even if that damage is not to their physical bodies.
Imagine a family who has worked hard to save money, improve their credit, and finally purchase the home of their dreams. There are children who have bedrooms that are filled with their favorite toys, games, irreplaceable gifts that hold far more meaning that their value in money. One child has a collection of beloved stuffed animals, many of which cannot be replaced. Another child has a treasured musical instrument, which his parents could barely afford to give him. The mother in this home has a collection of scrap books that her late grandmother created. Then, someone comes along while the family isn’t home, and they burn down the house. Everything is lost. Not only is the family left without a home, at least temporarily, but even if they have excellent property insurance, they can never replace all that they have lost in that fire. It is only natural that the arsonist should face consequences that are just as serious as the significant damage they have done.
What If You Are Facing Criminal Charges for Arson or Property Crimes that Were Caused by Accident?
In many cases, these types of property crimes were not intentional. In the example above, maybe you started the fire by accident. You might have been a housekeeper or a guest who had permission to be on the property, but you accidentally knocked over a lit candle without realizing it. Maybe you were a neighbor who was barbecuing near the property and you accidentally started a fire that spread to the neighboring property. The question here is going to be whether or not you can establish that the harm that you caused was not intentional. You will want to work with a skilled Charlotte, North Carolina, criminal defense attorney to fight any charges that you may be facing for an accidental property crime.
What If You Are Facing Criminal Charges for Arson or Property Crimes that You Did Not Commit?
Then, there are cases where you may be wrongfully accused. In the same examples, you may have been a housekeeper or a guest with permission to be on the property, and you just happened to be there when a fire started. Yet, you had nothing to do with the fire. It may have been an electrical issue or it may be that somebody else caused the fire, by accident or with intention, but you end up accused. In arson cases, there is always an investigation to establish whether a crime took place. Was it arson? Was it an accident? Was it an electrical issue that nobody could have foreseen? These investigations usually come to the correct conclusion, but sometimes, there is reasonable doubt. Other times, they may prove that it was arson, but the wrong person is accused. You may have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. If something like this happens to you, then you will want to fight the charges with skilled legal representation. The last thing you want is to work with an attorney who doesn’t believe you or doesn’t have the skills and experience to protect your rights and fight for your innocence.
What If You Are Facing Criminal Charges for Arson or Property Damage That You Are Guilty Of?
Now, we come to those cases where you actually did commit the crime. It is not uncommon for people to make poor decisions out of anger, and you may even feel remorse. It may be that you were wrapped up in the actions of others, that you were intoxicated, or that you were simply so enraged for any reason that you committed a terrible crime. Usually, when someone commits a property crime like this, they are filled with remorse afterwards. If this is the case, then you need a skilled Charlotte, North Carolina, criminal defense attorney who will be able to express your remorse to the judge and work to get your charges reduced and/or minimize the severity of your consequences. In a case where you are truly guilty, you really need a lawyer who helps to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
The Severity of Consequences in Arson and Property Crimes in Charlotte, North Carolina
To fully understand the seriousness of your situation, let’s look at the potential consequences that you could face for committing arson and other property crimes in Charlotte, North Carolina.
- Willful and Wanton Injury to Real Property: This is a criminal charge that is not associated with arson, but with other forms of property damage. This is a Class 1 Misdemeanor which comes with the consequence of a jail sentence for up to one year.
- Disorderly Conduct In and Injury to Public Buildings and Facilities: This is another charge that is not related to arson, but is associated with damage to public properties, like parks, government buildings, community centers, etc. It is a Class 2 Misdemeanor which comes with a jail sentence between 30 days and six months.
- Arson: Crimes that involve arson are any that involve malicious, voluntary, and willful burning of the property of someone else. There is first degree arson, which refers to any arson situation where there were people inside of the property at the time of the crime. This is a Class D Felony, and comes with a prison sentence between 38 months and 58 months for a first offense. Then, there is second degree arson, which refers to any arson situation where there were no people inside the property at the time of the crime. This is a Class G Felony, which comes with a prison sentence of eight months to sixteen months for the first offense.
Seek a Free Consultation with a Charlotte, North Carolina, Criminal Defense Attorney
No matter how you came to be facing criminal charges for arson, you are going to need a Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney to help you get the best possible outcome in your case. Seek a free consultation with the attorneys at Remington & Dixon to learn how we can help.