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Criminal Defense Attorney: 4 Criminal Defense Principles You Should Know If You're Charged With Arson

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You could face serious penalties, including prison time if arrested and charged with arson. Unfortunately, you could be wrongly accused. If this is the case, you need to know your rights and the defenses available. Understanding criminal defense principles can help you mount an effective defense against these charges and protect your rights. A criminal defense attorney can also guide and support you throughout the process. The following are four criminal defense principles you should know if you're charged with arson:

You Have the Right to an Attorney 

If you've been charged with arson, you should first exercise your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. You can have them during the questioning process, during your trial, or when negotiating a plea bargain. Though you might feel like you can talk your way out of the situation, it's always best to have legal counsel to boost your odds of obtaining a favorable outcome.

You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty

You shouldn't be treated as a criminal after your arrest until you are proven guilty in a court of law. Any intimidation, harassment, or abuse by law enforcement is strictly prohibited. The presumption of innocence is vital because it protects accused individuals from being convicted of a crime they didn't commit. So, for you to be convicted, the prosecution must provide evidence proving, without a shadow of a doubt, that you committed the crime you're accused of. In an arson case, for instance, they may be required to provide eyewitness accounts, video footage, or a confession. If the proof fails to meet this high standard, you will be acquitted.

There Has to Be the Presence of Fire in an Arson Case

Arson is the willful and malicious burning of property. This includes any type of structure, vehicle, or land. The fire doesn't have to cause extensive damage to be considered arson. In some cases, even minimal damage can lead to an arson charge. If there's no mention of fire or willful burning in your case, then it likely isn't arson. The prosecutor will be required to show the actions that led up to the fire. These may include buying accelerants, dousing the area in flammable liquids, or setting multiple fires in the same vicinity.

A Motive is Not Always Required for an Arson Charge

While a motive can help solidify an arson case against someone, it is not always required when filing charges. In some cases, the prosecution may provide evidence showing that you had the opportunity and means to commit the crime, even if they can't establish why you would want to do so.

If you've been charged with arson, it's important to know your rights and understand the criminal defense principles that may apply to your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can also help you navigate the criminal justice system and defend your rights.

Contact a criminal defense attorney to learn more.