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Arson is committed when an individual intentionally burns any type of property. Many states, including Iowa, view varying degrees of arson based on factors such as, whether the building was occupied or if insurance fraud was intended. Iowa statute classifies arson as a felony due to the potential to cause injuries or death.

An arson conviction can lead to serious consequences, including jail time and steep fines. You should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney as early in the process as possible. An attorney can help you build the strongest defense possible to achieve the best possible result in your case.

Attorney for “Arson” Crimes in Des Moines, IA

When deciding to work with an attorney at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. you’re placing your case in the hands of skilled, dedicated, and diligent attorneys. The attorney will spend time with you and analyze your case to reach the best possible result for you.

The attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. pride themselves on being prepared for motion hearings and trials. If you, a friend or a family member has recently been accused or charged with arson, contact a criminal defense attorney at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C..

The attorneys of McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. represent clients in all property criminal matters, including theft, receiving stolen property, arson, burglary, and robbery.  A case evaluation is free, contact McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. at (515) 279-9700 or submit a form online.

Iowa Arson Information Center

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Arson Overview

Under Iowa Code 712.1 an individual may be charged with arson if the following conditions exist:

  • The individual causes a fire, explosion, or places any burning material in or near property; and
  • The individual has the intent to destroy or damage that property or knows the property will probably be destroyed

An individual may be charged with arson even if no property is damaged or destroyed. It is only required that an individual cause the fire or explosion with the intent or knowledge that damage or destruction is probable.

An individual may also be charged with arson if he or she causes a fire or explosion that destroys property while manufacturing (or attempting to manufacture) an illegal drug or controlled substance. Commonly, this occurs while an individual is manufacturing or attempting to manufacture methamphetamines or meth.

Depending on the particular circumstances an individual may face the following types of criminal charges related to arson:

  • Arson In the First Degree
  • Arson In The Second Degree
  • Arson In The Third Degree
  • Reckless Use Of Fire Or Explosives
  • Possession Of Explosive Or Incendiary Materials Or Devices
  • Threats Or Attempts
  • False Reports

Many of these cases also involve allegations of insurance fraud.

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Arson Penalties in Iowa

Arson in the First Degree: An individual may be charged with arson in the first degree under the following circumstances:

  • The arson occurs in the presence of one or more persons can be reasonably anticipated in or near the property; or
  • The arson results in the death of a fire fighter, whether paid or volunteer.

Arson in the first degree is a class B felony punishable by confinement of no more than 25 years.

Arson in the Second Degree:  An individual may be charged with arson in the second degree if the arson occurs in a building, structure or real property of any kind, standing crops, or personal property when the value of the property exceeds $500. Arson in the second degree is a class C felony, which is punishable by to 10 years in prison and a fine from $1,000 to $10,000

Arson in the Third Degree: Arson in the third degree is an aggravated misdemeanor and is the lower level of charges associated with arson. It’s commonly issued for reckless conduct, rather than intentional conduct or damage to property. Third degree arson charge may often result in a non-violent classification, meaning a better chance for probation, a lower range of punishment. An aggravated misdemeanor can lead to up to 2 years in prison and a fine from $625 to $6,250

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Possible Defenses for Arson

A strong defense is necessary in any criminal case. The following are common defenses to arsons:

  • Property owner’s consent
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Alibi

The aforementioned list is non-exhaustive. It is necessary to consult an experienced arson defense attorney to explore all of your legal options.

Consent: Under Iowa Code 712.1 an individual cannot be charged with arson if the owner of the property consents to the fire or explosion. A successful consent defense requires the following:

  • The property owner consented to the fire or explosion
  • No insurer was fraudulently exposed to any risk
  • The fire or explosion was done in a way as to no unreasonably endanger the life or property of any other person.

Mistaken Identity: A possible defense to arson is mistaken identity. Mistaken Identity is a common and helpful defense strategy because most times there are no witnesses when arson occurs and very rarely are suspects taken into custody at the scene. Therefore, the prosecution has to prove without reasonable doubt that it was you who committed the crime, and they’ll need sufficient evidence to prove that.

Alibi: Another defense tactic could be built on an alibi. An alibi is a claim that an individual was elsewhere when the alleged arson took place. If you have evidence that you were somewhere else when the arson took place, then you couldn’t have possibly committed the crime.

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Find an Attorney for Arson Cases in Polk County, Iowa

Criminal allegations of arson involve a willful or malicious burning or attempt to burn, with or without intent to defraud, the property of another including a home or dwelling house, public building, motor vehicle or aircraft, or other personal property. If you’re facing charges related to arson or another type of property crime, a Des Moines criminal defense attorney at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can help you.

Our seasoned attorneys will challenge evidence and seek to have charges reduced or dismissed. Contact our office today at (515) 279-9700. We welcome your calls.

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