In general, arson is defined as the malicious and willful burning/charring of a structure or property. The property can be residential, commercial, forest land, and boats. But compared to other states, Texas has a different set of laws regarding how an arson conviction is punished in the state.
How is Arson Defined in Texas?
In Texas, a person is guilty of arson if they start a fire. It doesn’t matter whether the fire continues after they start the fire, or even if it leads to an explosion.
What Does a Prosecutor need to Prove to Convict Me of Arson in Texas?
The defendant can be found guilty of arson if they set fire or cause an explosion with the intent to damage or destroy:
- Any fence, structure on open-space land, or vegetation;
- Any habitation, building, or vehicle;
- Started a fire or causes an explosion recklessly, while attempting to or actually manufacturing a controlled substance and the fire damages property;
- Intentionally started a fire or caused an explosion that destroyed another individual’s building;
- Intentionally started a fire or caused an explosion that caused an individual to suffer bodily harm;
- Started a fire to a property that they know is subject to a mortgage or other security interest.
What is the Punishment for Arson?
Overall, a defendant found guilty of arson will be convicted of a second degree felony, which is punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. But if another person suffered injury or death, and the damaged/destroyed property was a home or a place or worship, then the defendant will be charged with a first degree felony. If convicted of first degree felony arson, the defendant can face 5 to 99 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
But if the defendant found guilty of arson done during an attempt to make illegal drugs, then they can face a state jail felony. The defendant will face 180 days to 2 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
If the arson was due to recklessness by the defendant, then the charge is elevated to a third degree felony. The defendant will then face 2 to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Should I Contact a Lawyer Regarding My Arson Charge?
Yes. Contact a criminal defense lawyer in Texas immediately regarding your arson charge in Texas, to help you learn more about your rights and defense options.