There are a number of causes of fires, however, when an individual intentionally starts a fire, he or she may be committing the crime of arson. Like in most states, Texas treats arson very seriously. Generally speaking, a person commits arson in Texas if they start a fire or cause an explosion with the intent to destroy property. There may be more serious charges if death or serious bodily injuries occur as a result of arson. Read on and reach out to our firm today to learn more about arson laws in Texas. Our skilled Houston criminal defense attorneys are on your side.
How does the state of Texas define arson?
There are a number of different circumstances that can result in an arson charge. These can include fires intended to damage or destroy fences, vegetation, or structures on open-space land. Starting a fire with the intent to damage a home, building, or vehicle knowing that it is within city limits, insured, subject to a security interest (like a mortgage), or located on someone else’s property is also classified as arson. Furthermore, it’s considered arson if a person starts a fire with the intent to damage or destroy a house, building, or vehicle when he or she is reckless about whether it will endanger the life of another person or the safety of someone else’s property.
It is essential to recognize that arson happens where there is either intended to cause damage or destroy or where there is proof of recklessness in starting a fire. For instance, an arson charge can result from recklessly starting a fire or causing an explosion while manufacturing a controlled substance, which results in harm to any vehicle, house, or building. An additional example of arson can occur if a person intentionally starts a fire that recklessly causes bodily injury or death, or damages someone else’s building. Lastly, a person can be charged with arson in Texas even if the fire doesn’t continue after ignition; therefore, in many cases, actual damage to property is not a necessary component.
What are the consequences of arson?
The penalties associated with arson will depend on the degree of the charge. The consequences include the following:
- First Degree Felony: Life imprisonment or a term of 5 to 99 years in prison.
- Second Degree Felony: 2 to 20 years in prison.
- Third Degree Felony: 2 to 10 years in prison.
- State Jail Felony: 180 days to 2 years in prison.
It is also important to keep in mind that under the terms of imprisonment described, a fine of up to $10,000 may be charged, no matter what degree of the felony.
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