West Palm Beach Arson Attorney David W. Olson
Arson is the offense of setting fire to a dwelling, structure, vehicle or other form of property. Arson is considered a violent crime and a conviction for first degree arson can potentially result in a 30 year prison sentence.
If you were charged with arson it is crucial to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will provide a vigorous and effective defense while pursuing the best possible outcome for your case.
For more than 30 years Attorney David Olson has represented thousands of clients charged with serious felonies and misdemeanors, including drug crimes, DUI’s, juvenile crimes, sex offenses, identity theft, murder charges, violation of probation and other offenses. Attorney Olson offers a free case review.
Florida Arson Statute §806.01
Florida’s arson statute is detailed in Chapter 806 of the Florida Statutes, Arson and Criminal Mischief.
Florida Statute §806.01, Arson:
(1) Any person who willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages or causes to be damaged:
(a) Any dwelling, whether occupied or not, or its contents;
(b) Any structure, or contents thereof, where persons are normally present, such as: jails, prisons, or detention centers; hospitals, nursing homes, or other health care facilities; department stores, office buildings, business establishments, churches, or educational institutions during normal hours of occupancy; or other similar structures; or
(c) Any other structure that he or she knew or had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied by a human being,
is guilty of arson in the first degree, which constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(2) Any person who willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages or causes to be damaged any structure, whether the property of himself or herself or another, under any circumstances not referred to in subsection (1), is guilty of arson in the second degree, which constitutes a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) As used in this chapter, “structure” means any building of any kind, any enclosed area with a roof over it, any real property and appurtenances thereto, any tent or other portable building, and any vehicle, vessel, watercraft, or aircraft.
First Degree Arson – Arson Statute §806.01 Explained
For the state to meet its burden it must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:
- Willfully and unlawfully caused a fire or explosion, or,
- Caused a fire or explosion during the commission of a felony;
- Damaged an occupied or unoccupied dwelling or its contents; or,
- The defendant caused a fire or explosion to a structure such as a hospital, store or church during normal hours of occupancy when people are normally present; or,
- The defendant caused a fire or explosion to any structure that s/he had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied by a person.
If the act of arson results in the death of another, additional serious charges such as murder may be added. A conviction for first degree arson can potentially result in a 30 year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
Second Degree Arson
A second degree arson charge must prove that the defendant
- Willfully and unlawfully caused a fire or explosion, or,
- While committing a felony,
- Damaged a structure belonging to himself or herself or another,
- Under circumstances not referred to in first degree arson.
A conviction for second degree arson can potentially result in a prison sentence of 15 years and a fine up to $10,000.
The term structure is defined by statute and includes:
- Any building of any kind
- Any enclosed area with a roof over it
- Any real property and appurtenances thereto (e.g., shed, hot tub, pool)
- Portable buildings, tents
- Vehicles, vessels, watercraft or aircraft
Defending Against Arson Charges
After a fire, law enforcement and fire officials often work together in a shared investigation. Unless a witness was present or evidence or specific information emerges, the prosecution may only be able to prosecute the case with limited circumstantial evidence.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will challenge the evidence and pursue reasonable doubt. As well, there are various procedural challenges that may result in the suppression and exclusion of evidence. Discuss your case with Attorney Olson for specific information.
Other Arson-Related Offenses
The Florida Statutes proscribe several other arson-related crimes, including:
- §806.031 – Arson resulting in injury to another
- §806.10 – Preventing or obstructing extinguishment of fire
- §806.101 – False alarms of fires
- §806.111 – Fire bombs
West Palm Beach Arson and Criminal Defense Attorney David W. Olson
For more than 30 years, Attorney Olson has been helping clients in their time of great need. He has represented thousands of clients accused of serious felonies and misdemeanors, including murder, sex offenses, drug trafficking, white collar crimes, DUI’s, domestic assault and battery, vehicular homicide and virtually everything in between.
One thing is for sure – every case is of paramount importance to every client. As well, for Attorney Olson, there is only one goal: to provide the most effective legal representation possible.
Attorney Olson’s efforts over the past three decades have resulted in awards and accolades from the legal profession and his clients, including:
- Nation’s Top One Percent – National Association of Distinguished Counsel. Awarded only to the top one percent of all attorneys in the country.
- AV Preeminent Peer Review Rating – 5.0 out of 5.0, the highest level of professional excellence, legal ability and ethical standards.
- Top 100 Trial Lawyers – The National Trial Lawyers.
- “…He was honest, genuine and very easy to talk to, and after a few months the charges against me were dropped. I couldn’t have asked for a better result.”
- “I had the pleasure and good fortune of retaining Mr. Olson to defend me and cannot express in too many superlatives how thorough and attentive to my situation he was…I would highly recommend Mr. Olson as a criminal attorney capable of expertly handling any case he might be presented with.”
- “David is an utmost professional in his field, where there are not too many that I know with the knowledge he carries. I’ve personally had David represent me and have referred him to many of my colleagues that have all subsequently raved about his honesty and integrity.”
Attorney Olson will always pursue the best possible outcome for your case. Many of his cases have resulted in dismissals, reduced charges, favorable plea negotiations and a wide range of alternatives to incarceration, such as community service, diversion programs, drug or alcohol treatment, probation and/or other options.
It is always advisable to contact your attorney as soon as possible after an arrest or upon learning of an investigation or impending arrest. In this way Attorney Olson can take control of the case and start your legal defense at the earliest possible time.
Attorney Olson represents clients in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, South Florida and throughout the state. For a confidential and free case consultation, call 561-833-8866.
Arson and Criminal Mischief, Chapter 806, Florida Statutes (2015)