Arson in the Third Degree
Obtain Tough Legal Counsel from Yeargan & Kert, LLC in Atlanta Georgia to Win Your Third Degree Arson Case
Arson is generally described as setting fire to a property that belongs to another individual. The damage may occur as a result of fire or explosives. Georgia law traditionally separates arson into three separate degrees.
Each degree has its own elements and punishments. Elements describe a criminal act and is used by prosecutors to try to convict a defendant. Third-degree arson is outlined in the Georgia statute O.C.G.A. 16-7-62.
Third Degree Arson is the least Serious Charge in Atlanta Georgia
Third-degree arson is the criminal act of knowingly damaging personal property valued at more than $25. You allegedly damage the property by setting fire to it or setting an explosive to cause the arson damage.
One example of a third-degree arson is taking a friend’s cellular phone during an argument. If you set fire to the cellular phone to get back at your friend, you could be charged with third-degree arson.
You can also be charged with this arson degree if you did not physically set fire to someone’s personal property, but you did one or more of the following:
- You advised someone to commit arson
- You aided, or helped, a person commit arson
- You encouraged someone to set fire to personal property
- You hired an individual to commit arson
- You counseled someone on how to commit arson
A Third Degree Arson Charge is usually not Upgraded
You probably heard a lot about a defendant being arrested for a crime. Months later, the same criminal charge is upgraded to a more serious charge. This typically does not happen in a third-degree arson charge.
The reason for this is because you have to be accused of doing more than setting fire to personal property valued at $25 or more. First-degree arson requires you to set fire to the property such as someone’s home. Second degree arson requires you to set fire to an item like a watercraft or vehicle. You can also be charged if you abetted an individual who actually committed the crime.
Third Degree Arson is a Felony in Atlanta Georgia
Anyone convicted in Atlanta Georgia of third-degree arson will face felony punishment. The punishment is not as severe as the first and second-degree arson convictions. For instance, the maximum criminal sentence for second-degree arson is 10 years in prison.
The punishment for third-degree arson is one to five years in prison. You may also have to pay $25,000 fine.
Defending Your Third Degree Arson Charge in Atlanta Georgia
You have options to fight your third-degree arson charge. Tell your truthful version of what happened before, during and after the alleged arson and your arrest. The defense is vital because it allows you to fight the arson charge. Below are some common defenses to arson in the third degree:
Lack of intent to burn anything. You have to have the requisite intent to commit arson. If you made a mistake or the burning just occurred, you cannot be charged with arson.
You did not help another person commit arson. If you are not accused of actually creating the fire, you may be able to use this defense. You claim that you did not help anyone do anything. You have to prove that you are innocent.
Insufficient evidence is different than a lack of evidence. Insufficient evidence means the state does not have the proper evidence to convict you or crime. This is another way to get the arson charges dropped against you.
The fire was caused by an accident. This is another type of lack of intent defense. You claim that you did start the fire. So you admit to the crime, but you do it for a reason. You claim that it was a mistake. You did not mean to do it.
Mistaken identity is another defense. You are not guilty because someone else caused the fire. You did not set fire and you did not aid the one who did it. Someone else committed the crime, but you are being blamed for it.
The actual innocence defense is that you did not commit the crime at all. You may not an alibi, but you have another way to prove that you are innocent of arson. You have a reason why you did not commit the crime.
You have an alibi for the time and date the arson happened. This means you could not be accused or convicted of burning any property.
Lack of evidence is the type of defense that makes the state show their evidence. You claim they do not have the evidence to take the case to the arson court. You challenge the evidence and tell them they have no evidence. If they do not, they make drop the charges. It really depends on how weak their evidence is against you.
Not all defenses may not fit every case. If you do not think any of the listed defenses will help you, do not worry. More defenses are available. The defense you choose with advice from a skilled attorney from Yeargan & Kert, LLC will be adapted to the facts of the case and your version of events.
Yeargan & Kert, LLC is Your Atlanta Georgia Third Degree Arson Attorney
It is easy to feel overconfident about a third-degree charge because it has lesser penalties than the other degrees. You have to take this charge seriously. You still face serious punishment.
The focus must be on proving your innocence. During an arson investigation, a number of mistakes can be made. This may cause the state to heavily depend on circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is not strong evidence. The evidence tries to connect you to the arson charge to may a jury believe you most likely committed the crime.
Yeargan & Kert, LLC is committed to discovering and presenting strong evidence to challenge the state’s case. Contact Yeargan & Kert, LLC for help with your third-degree arson charge.