Defense Strategies For Arson Charges
Defendants charged with arson may utilize one of the following defense strategies:
1. The fire was an accident. To be convicted of arson, the defendant should be shown to have acted willfully and maliciously. This is more serious than acting recklessly or negligently. For example, forgetting to turn off the stove or fireplace is negligent. Prosecutors will attempt to prove intent through eyewitness testimony, emails, texts, voicemails, and expert testimony. Deliberately starting a lawful fire, such as a campfire, may be charged as arson if the fire burns nearby property and the spread was reasonably foreseeable.
2. The fire was a natural disaster. Regions with dry heat are more prone to wildfires. Thus, a defendant can claim nature caused the fire — not a person. Testimony from forensic experts can help support this defense. Prosecutors have to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A lack of evidence to meet this burden could lead to the charges being dismissed.
3. The defendant has been falsely accused. A defendant may be falsely accused of arson in the following cases:
- An individual started a fire to obtain insurance money and wants to blame someone else.
- An individual started a fire and doesn’t want to face the consequences.
- An individual was a victim of arson and accuses the wrong person out of anger or revenge.