Arson occurs when a person intentionally burns any kind of structure or building, or causes an explosion while a building is occupied. Arson cases are often investigated by elite law enforcement units who use advanced chemical analysis to pinpoint the origin of a fire and the most likely contributing factors to the fire’s ignition and spread. In addition to locating the cause of a fire or explosion, police are also interested determining if the act was committed in retaliation or to conceal another crime. Because arson can cause significant financial damage and/or bodily harm, and can be related to the commission of other crimes, law enforcement will frequently utilize their full arsenal of tools and personnel in pursuit of prosecution of arson crimes.
For these reasons and more, anyone accused of arson will likely want to seek out an experienced attorney. An Omaha arson lawyer could help you combat the overwhelming power of the state to avoid the potential penalties of an arson conviction.
Punishments for Arson
There are three different degrees of arson charges: 1st degree arson, 2nd degree arson, and 3rd degree arson.
- 1st Degree Arson: Treated as a Class II Felony.
- 2nd Degree Arson: Treated as a Class III Felony.
- 3rd Degree Arson: Treated as a Class IV Felony if the damage is $1,500 or more. Can be considered a Class I misdemeanor if the damage is less than $1500 but more than $500. 3rd degree arson can also be treated as a Class II Misdemeanor if the damage is below $500.
The prosecution may offer a plea deal to the accused to try to convince them to simply take a lesser charge to avoid a prison sentence, but even a lesser arson criminal charge can prevent someone from working in certain fields or inhibit them from maintaining their constitutional freedoms. With this in mind, it is important that you contact an Omaha arson lawyer to ensure your rights and your future are protected.
Although police have a wealth of technology that they can use to asses an arson crime scene, many arson convictions are based on highly circumstantial forms of evidence. A jury must be fully convinced of the following facts to secure an arson conviction:
- The defendant set fire to or burned a structure
- The act was willful and malicious
Fires are often the result of accidents or minor negligence, such as plugging too many devices into an outlet or leaving candles unattended. While a person may have acted in a manner that allowed the fire to happen, this is very different from committing arson, and an experienced Omaha arson attorney can help prove to a jury that an incident lacked intent or malice.
The most common causes of fires in residential settings are: candles, smoking, electrical malfunction, improper maintenance or operation of a washer/dryer, lightning strikes, children playing with fire, and cooking accidents.
None of these are undoubtedly the result of a willful and malicious act, and individuals accused of arson should not assume that their minor mistakes should turn them into felons. An arson charge is a very serious matter, and an individual stricken with grief over a fire may not fight for their rights to the full extent allowed by law. An experienced arson lawyer in Omaha can ensure that your rights are protected and you are not prosecuted unjustly.
We are Here to Help You. Speak with an Omaha Arson Lawyer Today.
At the Berry Law, we have helped clients throughout Nebraska fight for their rights and freedom for decades. We are committed to providing client-focused services for all cases, no matter how complex they might be. Let us put our legal experience to work for you and your future. Contact an Omaha arson lawyer today to schedule a confidential consultation.