Fires can start for a number of different reasons. But, if you start one on purpose, you might be committing a crime. Like most states, arson is a serious crime in Texas (which you can commit if you start a fire or cause an explosion for the purpose of destroying a property). If it resulted in death or serious bodily injury, there may be other charges in addition to arson in Texas. Arson is a serious crime. So if you’re facing these types of charges, you need to contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible.
What is Considered Arson in Texas
There are several circumstances that can lead to arson charges in Texas, which can include any of the following:
- Starting a fire for the purpose of damaging or destroying fences, vegetation, or structures on an open piece of land.
- Starting a fire for the purpose of damaging or destroying a home, building, or vehicle that’s within city limits.
- Starting a fire for the purpose of damaging or destroying a home, building, or vehicle that’s insured or has a specific security interest (such as a mortgage).
- Starting a fire for the purpose of damaging or destroying an item or structure that’s located on someone else’s property.
- Starting a fire for the purpose of damaging or destroying a house, building or vehicle and is reckless about whether it will endanger someone else’s life.
It’s considered arson in Texas when there is either the intent to damage or destroy, or when there’s proof of recklessness when you start a fire. The same is true if you start an explosion. According to the Texas penal code for arson, this type of charge is considered a 2nd degree felony, but there may be other circumstances that can change its classification. Here are the other arson charges in Texas and their specific classifications:
- First-Degree Felony — Fires that have been deliberately started with the intent of damaging or destroying a home, assembly location, or place of worship, and it resulted in the bodily injury or death of another person.
- Third-Degree Felony — Fires that were recklessly started during the manufacture of a controlled substance and resulted in the bodily injury or death of another person.
- State Jail Felony — Fires that were recklessly started during the manufacture of a controlled substance and caused damage to a home, building, or vehicle. An arson charge in Texas could also be classified as a state jail felony if a fire was deliberately started, caused damaged to a home or building, and caused reckless bodily injury or death.
If you want more information from a qualified criminal defense lawyer in Corpus Christi, be sure to get in touch with the Gale Law Group.
Penalties for Arson in Texas
The penalties for arson in Texas will depend on how the charges are classified, which are as follows:
- First Degree Felony: A term of 5-99 years in prison with the possibility for a life sentence.
- Second Degree Felony: A term of 2-20 years in prison.
- Third Degree Felony: A term of 2-10 years in prison.
- State Jail Felony: A prison sentence of 180 days to 2 years.
In addition to the sentences that are described above, you could also face a fine of up to $10,000 (regardless of the felony degree).
Possible Exceptions and Defenses for Arson in Texas
It’s not considered arson if a fire or explosion was a controlled action that took place on a piece of open land. Another possible defense to arson charges in Texas is if you had a permit or written authorization before you started a fire or caused an explosion within city limits. Of course, the laws in Texas can always change because of new legislation, rulings in higher courts (which can include federal decisions), ballot initiatives, or some other set of circumstances. So, you should always speak to a qualified attorney for more information.
Your Choice for a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Corpus Christi!
If you’re looking for one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the Coastal Bend, Gale Law Group has a team of experts that can help with your defense. We understand the Texas penal code for arson and for many other criminal charges, so we have what you need to come up with a solid defense. You can try to go at it on your own, but there are things that you may not understand about arson cases in Texas. That’s why you need to have a qualified attorney by your side.
If you want work with a criminal defense lawyer in Corpus Christi who will fight for you, get in touch with us today!