Connecticut Arson Lawyer
The top criminal lawyers would agree that it is rare to see arrests for arson in Stamford or Greenwich, Connecticut. While many fires that cause damage to property or human life or property are accidental, there are circumstances and scenarios where these fires are the result of criminal conduct—specifically intentional or reckless conduct of one or more people that causes property damage or physical injury. The Connecticut criminal penal code contains a number of laws prohibiting arson and reckless burning. In fact, according to state criminal laws, you can actually be arrested for arson in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or New Canaan, Connecticut for setting fire to your very own property. Arson applies to a wide range of public property as well. There are three degrees of arson codified in the Connecticut Criminal Code – each carrying its own penalties. So if you are arrested for arson in Greenwich, Darien, Wilton, Ridgefield, or Danbury, then you should contact a top Connecticut arson attorney to understand the charges against you and help you get your case resolved, and hopefully dismissed, as quickly as possible.
Degrees of Arson in Connecticut
Arson in the First Degree, codified in C.G.S. § 53a-111, is the most serious arson charge. As the best Connecticut arson lawyers observe, First Degree Arson under CGS 53a-111 forbids a person from starting a fire with the intent to damage or destroy a home, office building, warehouse, any commercial structure, mobile home, trailer, railroad passenger car, airplane, boat, or any other similar structure. Additionally, to be arrested in Stamford or Greenwich for a First Degree Arson charge, one of the following elements must also occur: the property must be occupied, someone must be injured, the fire must be set as part of an insurance scam, or a firefighter or law enforcement official faces substantial risk of physical injury as a result of the fire. First Degree Arson is a Class A Felony, which is one of the most serious classification of felonies, second only to a capital felony that carries a life sentence. A conviction for a First Degree Arson arrest carries a jail sentence 25-60 years in prison. Needless to say, the penalties for Arson in the First Degree are severe.
Like First Degree Arson, to get arrested in Connecticut for Arson in the Second Degree, as set forth in C.G.S. § 53a-112, requires that an individual—with the intention of damaging a home, office building, warehouse, mobile home, railroad passenger car, airplane, trailer home, boat, or any other similar structure—starts a fire or causes an explosion that causes a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person. Unlike an arrest for First Degree Arson in Connecticut, actual injury to a person is not necessary for an arrest in Greenwich or Darien Connecticut for 53a-112 Arson in the Second Degree. As the best Connecticut arson lawyers frequently see, a Second Degree Arson arrest can also be charged in cases where the fire was set or explosion was triggered to conceal another crime, or to deprive someone else of a constitutional or legal right or privilege (such as protesting or voting). As the best Stamford, Connecticut criminal attorneys would also agree, you can also be arrested for Arson in the Second Degree if you hire a third party to set such a fire or cause an explosion. Second Degree Arson is a Class B Felony, carrying a possible jail sentence of 1 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Arson in the Third Degree is the least serious of the Arson charges. The specific language of this law is set forth in C.G.S. § 53a-113. The statutory language varies significantly from both First and Second Degree Arson, because it does not require any intention to actually destroy or damage property. Instead, the intent element required to be proven for an arrest in Stamford Connecticut for Third Degree Arson is just the intention to start a fire or cause an explosion (not the intent to damage property). Thus, if the fire or explosion then recklessly damages a building or structure, you can be arrested in Darien, Stamford or Greenwich Connecticut for Arson in the Third Degree 53a-113, a Class C Felony. If you plead guilty or are found guilty by a jury in Connecticut for Arson in the Third Degree under C.G.S. § 53a-113, then you are facing up to 10 years in jail and a maximum $10,000 fine.
Fighting Your Arson Arrest in Stamford and Greenwich Connecticut
Fighting your Stamford Connecticut arson arrest requires skill and experience. As any top Connecticut arson criminal lawyer would tell you, the very first step in mounting an arson defense is to carefully review the police reports, photographs, witness statements, fire department diagrams and reports, and surveillance footage. Your lawyer then needs to assemble a top-tier team that may include a private investigator, as well as a forensic expert to reconstruct the fire or explosion. As with any criminal defense, the police and prosecutor reports and analyses must be double-checked, and triple-checked. You cannot taken any conclusion or observation of the police and prosecutors at face value. It is your top lawyer’s job to prove or disprove every allegation made against you. Critical questions must be asked and answered: Was the fire or explosion an accident? Was it set intentionally? Who set the fire? Are there other surveillance devices in the vicinity of the crime scene that may have recorded critical evidence? Can the explosive device or fire-setting materials be traced to any other suspects? And while all this investigation is ongoing, your top Stamford Connecticut criminal attorney should be leaning on the district attorneys and prosecutors for leniency and mitigation. For example, some people arrested for arson crimes in Connecticut have a psychological disorder with respect to fire and explosions—perhaps as a retired firefighter, or a war veteran with extensive explosives training, either of whom could be suffering from PTSD. These are considerations that must be discussed with your attorney and possibly used in your defense. Defense strategy is important in every case, but it is most important in cases that carry such lengthy prison sentences such as arson arrests in Darien and Stamford, Connecticut.
Using a Pre-Trial Diversionary Program
One other approach to fighting your Connecticut arson arrest is availing yourself of a Pre-Trial Diversionary Program, which asks the judge to suspend the prosecution of your case and dismiss the Connecticut arson arrest after a time period of up to 2 years. In light of the seriousness of an arrest in Stamford, Westport, or Fairfield Connecticut for Arson in the First, Second or Third Degrees, these programs are very hard to get in Connecticut Superior Court. But it is possible, especially if you are being assisted by any of the best attorneys. The Pre-Trial Accelerated Rehabilitation Program is available if you are arrested for 53a-113 Arson in the Third Degree, or Reckless Burning under CGS 53a-114, and can show good cause to the Superior Court judge that you are deserving of such a program. For First and Second Degree Arson charges, you may be eligible for the Pre-Trial “Supervised Diversionary Program”—formally known as a “Psychiatric AR,” “Psychiatric Accelerated Rehabilitation” or “Psych AR.” To qualify for this program, you must show good cause to the court and prove that at the time of alleged arson, you were suffering from a mental health disability that substantially contributed to the alleged criminal conduct. An in-depth forensic evaluation will take place for this Supervised Diversionary Program and your top Connecticut criminal lawyer must work hand-in-hand with your mental health professional to build this defense. This is not an insanity defense however, and it is not be confused with one. This is a suspension of prosecution strategy that will result in the full dismissal of your charges and a clean criminal record.
Conspiracy Arrests in Connecticut Arson Cases
As the best Connecticut arson lawyers routinely warn their clients, It is possible for you to be arrested as part of a conspiracy in an Arson case. Thus, even though you never physically set a fire or caused an explosion, if you participated in the planning of the arson, or engaged in an overt act in furtherance of the arson, and did nothing to stop the arson from taking place, then you can easily get arrested in Stamford, Greenwich or anywhere else in Connecticut for Conspiracy to Commit Arson under CGS 53a-48. Consider the following scenario: you and your friend make a plan to burn your car in order to collect insurance money. You never set fire to your car, but you purchased the gasoline and drove your friend to the location where your friend torched the car. This particular set of circumstances would warrant your arrest for Conspiracy to Commit Arson in the First Degree. Click here for more information on Connecticut criminal conspiracy arrests.
The Prisoner’s Dilemma in Conspiracy to Commit Arson Arrests
The best Connecticut Criminal Conspiracy lawyers frequently see a common police interrogation tactic used in Conspiracy cases, often called the “Prisoner’s Dilemma.” What veteran arson detectives will sometimes do is put the suspected conspirators in different rooms, and then tell each suspect that the other is about to rat or snitch on them (even if they aren’t). These police then give the suspect one last chance to come clean about a conspiracy. The officers might also promise leniency or less jail time in exchange for cooperation. They try to get in your head to convince you that the last thing you want is for your co-conspirator to cooperate with law enforcement before you do, leaving you with a lengthier sentence and holding the blame for the entire case. It is at this point that you must insist on exercising your right to speak with a top Connecticut arson lawyer. If you are cornered in a room by police detectives in an arson investigation and they are desperately seeking information from you, then chances are the police do not have the information they need in their investigation. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t talk. Exercise your right to speak to a top Connecticut criminal lawyer right away.
The Difference Between Arson and Reckless Burning Arrests in Connecticut
Another crime that is related to a Connecticut arson arrest is the Connecticut crime of Reckless Burning, as codified in C.G.S. § 53a-114. Although not technically a crime of Arson, the crime of Reckless Burning still requires the setting of a fire or ignition of an explosion. Much like Arson in the Third Degree, Reckless Burning does not require the intention to damage property or injure someone, but merely requires the intention to start a fire or an explosion. The two crimes differ however, because Reckless Burning, unlike Third Degree Arson, does not need to result in actual damage to property – just the danger or risk of destruction is enough to get you arrested in Stamford or Greenwich Connecticut for Reckless Burning under CGS 53a-114. Typical scenarios of arrests for Reckless Burning in Stamford, Wilton and New Canaan Connecticut are when teenagers set campfires or play with fireworks that accidentally, but recklessly, cause the risk of damage or destruction to property. Reckless Burning is a Class D Felony. This is the least serious class of felonies, and calls for prison sentences that range between 1 and 5 years and a maximum $5000 fine.
Arson Murder Arrests in Connecticut
The most serious consequence of any arson arrest in Stamford, Greenwich or Fairfield Connecticut is when the arson causes the death of another human being. Thus, if a death results from your conduct which law enforcement considers Arson in the First, Second, or Third Degrees, then you will be charged with Arson Murder, which is set forth C.G.S. § 53a-54d. To be arrested for Arson Murder, it is not necessary for you to have the intent to kill anyone. All that is required for this charge is that a death resulted from the Arson. To put this into perspective, if you set fire to a home in order to cash out on an insurance policy and someone died as a result of this fire, then you can be arrested for and charged with Arson Murder under 53a-54d. And as the best Stamford Connecticut criminal lawyers would agree, the consequences of a Connecticut Arson Murder arrest are extremely serious—even if the Arson Murder was an accident. If you are convicted of Arson Murder under 53a-54d, then you risk being sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Contact an Experienced Connecticut Arson Criminal Lawyer
Starting a fire or setting off an explosion—whether accidentally, recklessly or intentionally—can trigger a number of unforeseeable events that can get you into serious trouble. Arrests for arson in Greenwich Connecticut or Stamford Connecticut, or arrests in Stamford Connecticut for Reckless Burning can result in prison terms that range from 1 year to a life sentence without the possibility of parole. There is a great deal of variation in the length of the sentences between each of these crimes, but the bottom line is that each of these Connecticut arson charges in Connecticut can carry stiff prison sentences. Therefore, if you have been arrested in Stamford, New Canaan, Wilton, Westport or Greenwich Connecticut for Arson or Reckless Burning, you should contact an experienced Connecticut arson attorney lawyer at Mark Sherman Law. We will sit with you to craft the most cost-effective and persuasive defense strategy for your Connecticut arson arrest. Our goal is getting you the best disposition in the shortest amount of time. We are available 24/7 to take your phone call. Call us today.