Aggressive Lebanon Arson Defense Lawyers
Protecting clients accused of arson crimes in Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Cookeville, and throughout Tennessee
Any time a fire breaks out, or there’s an explosion of some kind, the fire department looks for a cause. Sometimes it’s faulty wiring; sometimes it’s a grease fire in the kitchen. There are many reasons for accidental fires – but when those reasons are not apparent, or the fire department suspects foul play, that is when the arson investigator shows up, often with another law enforcement organization along for the ride.
Arson is a felony, and as such, the penalties are harsh. You will need an experienced Lebanon criminal defense attorney on your side to ensure that your rights are upheld, and that all of the facts are laid bare. At Lowery, Lowery & Cherry, PLLC, we provide aggressive representation on behalf of clients accused of setting fires or causing explosions. If you are facing an arson charge in Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Cookeville, or anywhere in Middle Tennessee, contact us to learn if we can help.
Understanding Tennessee arson charges
Arson is a very specific, very narrow charge: “A person commits an offense who knowingly damages any structure by means of a fire or explosion:
(1) Without the consent of all persons who have a possessory, proprietary or security interest therein; or
(2) With intent to destroy or damage any structure to collect insurance for the damage or destruction or for any unlawful purpose.”
This is important, because it focuses on intention. If you intended to set a fire that would damage a structure, it’s arson. But what if the fire was unintentional? Or if it was set for one purpose, but ended up accidentally destroying someone’s property?
In order to be convicted of arson, the prosecutor must prove intent to a judge or jury. If they cannot prove intent, then you may be acquitted of all charges, because you should not have been charged with arson in the first place.
What are the penalties and consequences of an arson conviction?
Tennessee law has the following penalties for a conviction of arson:
- Arson, the intentional destruction of a structure by fire or explosion, you face three to 15 years in prison, and fines up to $10,000. If you are convicted of arson involving a place or worship, you face eight to 30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines, as this is a Class B felony. Otherwise, arson is a Class C felony.
- Aggravated arson, the intentional destruction of a structure where at least one person is within the structure at the time, and someone sustained serious bodily injury (fire fighters included), you can face between 15 and 60 years in prison, and up to $50,000 in fines. Aggravated arson is a Class A felony.
- Setting fire to personal property or land, where you intend to destroy that property knowingly, you face up to six years in prison and up to $3,000 in fines. This is a Class E felony.
- Reckless burning, where you are accused of starting a fire on someone else’s land or property and allow it to burn out of control, or start a fire in a place where fire is banned, you may spend up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, and/or pay up to $2,500 in fines. This is a Class A misdemeanor.
- Leaving fire near woodland unattended, such as building a campfire and then failing to put it out completely before you leave, you can be sent to jail for up to six months and/or face $500 in fines, plus any additional costs. This is a Class B misdemeanor.
- Setting fires at certain times without a permit – generally between October 15 and May 15 – you may be sent to jail for up to 30 days, and/or fined $50. This is a Class C misdemeanor, though it could be increased to a Class A if there is a longer ban on open air fires, or if a fire hazard has been declared in the area.
In other words, if you’re burning leaves on October 30, you will probably be fined $50 and told not to do it again. If you’re burning leaves in an empty warehouse using accelerants, you might end up in jail for close to a year. If you accidently set someone’s house on fire, now you’re facing arson charges.
Regardless of which penalties you face, however, you may have additional costs associated with your conviction. If you used a car in the commission of the crime, that vehicle will be seized under criminal forfeiture laws. If you are convicted of a felony charges, you will lose your right to carry a firearm and your right to vote. You will lose your security clearance and your professional license. You are almost guaranteed to lose your job, and you could lose your home, as well as access to education loans or government assistance.
On top of it all, an arson conviction will mar your reputation irreparably. Arson cannot be expunged from your record, so the effects of a conviction are there forever.
What are federal arson charges?
If the fire or explosion took place on federal land, or in a federal structure, then you can be charged by the federal government. Aside from government buildings, like the Post Office, a Social Security Administration office, or a court, this can include:
- National parks, like the Smokies
- National banks
- National cemeteries
- Natchez Trace Parkway and Scenic Trail
- Cherokee National Forest
- Military parks and installations
At Lowery, Lowery & Cherry, we can represent you if you are facing federal charges, or charges brought by the state. Partner Jeff Cherry is a former Metro Police Officer who understands how the Fire Marshall may determine an act of arson, and how the D.A. may choose to proceed in building a case against you. By combining that knowledge with our decades of experience, our attorneys have routinely built successful defense strategies for clients facing incredibly serious charges.
Accused of arson? Call our Lebanon arson defense attorneys today
Arson charges are very serious. You’re going to need a law firm with the skills, resources, and experience to handle your case. At Lowery, Lowery & Cherry, PLLC, we offer aggressive representation to clients facing felony or misdemeanor arson charges. We serve clients in Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Cookeville, or elsewhere in Tennessee. To set up a consultation, call 615-454-9404 or fill out our contact form.