Tulsa Defense Attorney for Arson Charges
Setting fire to an abandoned building may seem like a harmless prank and a far cry from putting people’s lives in jeopardy by igniting an occupied home. But both of these acts constitute types of arson – the act of purposefully setting fire to any type of real property with the intent to destroy it.
If you’ve been charged with arson, the defense attorneys at the Keesling Law Group want to help. The City of Tulsa as well as the State of Oklahoma takes these charges very seriously, with an entire unit in the Tulsa Department of Public Safety dedicated to arson investigation. An arson hotline allows people in the community to anonymously contact the division with information concerning these fires, and although this is a tremendous help to the police, the people who call in on this line are human and make mistakes.
If you’ve been unjustly accused of arson due to mistaken identity, have had the facts of an accident twisted into arson charges, or have been accused of a much more serious level of offense than you actually committed, we can help.
The defense attorneys at Keesling Law Group have years of experience in criminal defense and are well-known throughout the community and – more importantly – throughout the court system for our passionate and relentless defense of those who have been wrongly accused. If you’ve been charged with arson, we invite you to give us a call and let us help you set your life back on track.
What Are Arson Charges?
Arson is the act of intentionally setting fire to any real property, including buildings, vehicles, pastures, crops, or forest. The fire does not have to be large, nor the property costly to constitute such a charge. Any property worth more than $50 is eligible.
The most important phrase in the arson laws, however, is “willfully and maliciously.” If you started a fire by accident or intentionally started a fire for innocent reasons with no intention to damage property and that fire got out of control, you are not an arsonist.
Furthermore, true arson occurs at four different levels of severity. You may be guilty of fourth-degree arson, but have been charged with first-degree.
In any of these instances, whether you were mistakenly identified as setting the fire, set it on accident, for innocent reasons, or purposefully, but not for the reasons that have been brought against you, you need a stalwart defense against what is, at any level, a felony charge, subject to anywhere from 10 to 35 years in prison and $5,000 to $25,000 in fines.
Types of Arson Charges
Oklahoma recognizes four different levels of arson.
Fourth-degree arson is the least serious arson charge, with a maximum penalty of a $5,000 and/or up to 10 years in prison. You will be charged with this type of arson if you are suspected of setting fire to, or destroying by use of an explosive any real property worth more than $50. You can also be charged with fourth-degree arson if you are suspected of procuring or assisting an arsonist or of putting flammable, combustible, or explosive devices inside a building or near real property for the purpose of destroying it, even if the fire or explosion never took place.
Third-degree arson is similar to the fourth-degree act, but includes the attempt to defraud the insurer. This means that if the property was insured and you are suspected of being, helping, or procuring an arsonist to destroy the property in order to get the insurance payout, you can be charged with third-degree arson. If proven, this charge carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 and/or 15 years in prison.
Second-degree arson is significantly more serious than either of the two lower charges because it involves the potential of putting a person in jeopardy. You might be charged with second-degree arson if you set fire to a uninhabited or unoccupied building or accidentally cause an explosion or fire while manufacturing drugs (particularly meth). The penalty for a conviction under these charges is up to $20,000 and/or 25 years in prison.
First-degree arson is the most serious arson crime with which you can be charged. To be accused of this crime, there must have either been a person in the building (the building was “occupied”) or it was someone’s home (“inhabited”). If convicted of first-degree arson, you may face a sentence of up to 35 years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine.
A Criminal Defense Lawyer CAN Help You Beat Arson Charges
Although arson is a serious charge, American courts are founded on the principle of the accused being innocent until proven guilty. If you are innocent of all charges and were arrested due to the error of a witness, started a fire accidentally or innocently, or made the mistake of willfully trying to destroy property, but not at the level of which you’re being accused, we want to help you set things right.