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Not all arson charges are equal in Virginia

On Behalf of | May 3, 2022 | Criminal Defense

If the police accuse you of causing an explosion or setting something on fire, it is crucial to clarify the exact charges you face. While people generally call these things arson, Virginia breaks them down into several different crimes. Some have far harsher sentences than others.

The ideal form of defense would be to prove you had nothing to do with the event. Yet sometimes, that is not possible, and your best option is to try to get the charges downgraded to a lesser offense.

Here are some questions a court will take into consideration:

Did you intend to do damage?

You can still get charged for starting a fire even if there was no malicious intent. For instance, people who make a campfire could face charges if it goes out of control and destroys woodland or property.

Yet the most serious charges occur when there is malicious intent. Prosecutors may try to convince a court that you set out to cause harm. Even if they fail, it makes it easier for them to pressure you into accepting a plea deal for a lesser charge.

For example,  the police accuse of setting an old building on fire. They assume you were just kids fooling around. Then the prosecution finds out you once had an argument with the property owner and allege you decided to settle your grudge with fire.

Did you know someone was inside the property?

The prosecution may allege you knew the owner was inside and tried to injure or kill them. Before you know it, you have gone from facing minor charges for messing about with fire to being accused of trying to kill someone.

Your situation can escalate rapidly, so make sure you get help to understand more about your predicament and examine your defense options.

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