Sevierville Attorneys Provide an Experienced Defense for Tennessee Arson Charges
Helping Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg clients through the criminal law process
Arson is an extremely serious crime under Tennessee law. While the level of punishment generally depends on the amount of property damage caused, resulting injuries can lead to a serious felony charge. Potential penalties can include substantial jail time and extensive fines. When faced with arson charges in Pigeon Forge, Seymour, or Gatlinburg, secure an experienced Sevierville criminal defense attorney from Delius & McKenzie, PLLC for a vigorous criminal defense.
Arson classifications in Tennessee
The Tennessee statute defines three types of arson offenses:
- Reckless burning. Recklessly starting a fire on someone else’s property.
- Arson. Causing damage to a structure by fire or explosion.
- Aggravated arson. Causing damage to a structure by fire or explosion, resulting in bodily injury to another or when someone is present in the building.
Our attorneys are familiar with each type of arson charge and know the defenses to use to argue your case.
Understanding Tennessee arson charges
Arson is generally considered a type of property damage crime. The least serious of these charges is reckless burning, which applies when an individual recklessly starts a fire to another person’s property. This charge also applies when the fire is initially set on a person’s own property, but spreads to another’s property. Tennessee statute classifies reckless burning as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,500.
Arson is defined under Tennessee law as damaging a structure by fire or explosion:
- Without the consent of all persons with a possessory, proprietary, or security interest in the structure; or
- With intent to destroy or damage any structure to collect insurance for the damage or destruction or for any unlawful purpose.
The state classifies arson as a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by three to 15 years in prison, and up to $10,000 in fines. Our Sevierville criminal defense attorneys understand these charges and are prepared to defend you.
Fighting against an aggravated arson charge
The state may upgrade the charge to aggravated arson if certain circumstances apply. It first requires that the incident meet the general arson charges. In addition, the following conditions must apply:
- One or more individuals was present within the structure at the time of the incident.
- An individual suffered serious bodily injury as a result of the fire or explosion, including any firefighter or law enforcement officer who responds to the scene.
The state classifies aggravated arson as a Class A felony, punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000. An aggravated arson conviction carries serious convictions, so it is crucial that you secure representation from an experienced Sevierville criminal defense lawyer at our firm.
Defending a Tennessee arson charge
Arson charges can prove particularly challenging to defend against. It is vitally important that you seek assistance from an experienced attorney in these matters. Your attorney may choose to bring in a fire investigator to conduct an independent review of the evidence and scene of the fire. Though law enforcement also conducts an investigation, it may not be in your best interest to rely on their conclusions. Sometimes, arson charges are brought because all other causes are ruled out. This is far from a definitive conclusion regarding criminal arson.
Pretrial offers a prime opportunity for an experienced attorney to challenge the case against you. Your attorney may question the legitimacy of evidence collected or the accuracy of the conducted investigation. Another option is to challenge the elements of the crime. Arson requires intent and knowledge. Your lawyer may argue that your actions lacked these required elements. He may also assert that the burning was done with the consent of all persons having a possessory, proprietary, or security interest in the structure.
Speak to a knowledgeable Sevierville arson defense attorney today
Arson is a serious charge and mounting a defense can prove challenging. With more than 20 years of experience, the Sevierville criminal defense attorneys at Delius & McKenzie, PLLC have the knowledge to establish a comprehensive defense to the charge of arson. Call us today at 865-428-8780 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment. Our criminal defense attorneys are proud to serve clients in Sevierville, Seymour, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and throughout Tennessee.