Following most fires or explosions in Texas, local investigators and members of the State Fire Marshal’s Office will begin looking for possible causes. Witnesses who can attest to how a fire started are very rare in these cases, but possible motives when basic accidents have been ruled out may include attempted insurance fraud or hate crimes.
Many arson cases are prosecuted in juvenile court and involve allegations against juveniles who are engaged in firestarting without appreciating the dangers of playing with fire.
When investigators determine that a person deliberately caused a fire or explosion, criminal charges are often based on highly circumstantial evidence. Arson is a serious crime in Texas that is classified as a felony offense. A conviction can lead to a lengthy prison and steep fines.
Lawyer in San Antonio, Texas for Arson Defense
Have you been accused of committing arson in Texas? You will want to be sure that you have experienced legal representation capable of getting the criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed.
If you are suspected of arson, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before making any statements to law enforcement or investigators with the Texas Fire Marshal’s Office.
The dedicated San Antonio criminal defense attorneys of Goldstein & Orr fight to get the most favorable outcomes for clients all over Bexar County and surrounding areas. Call (210) 226-1463 or send us an online contact form right now to set up a completely free initial consultation that will let our lawyers review your case to see how we can help.
Overview of Arson in Bexar County
- What grade of felony is an arson offense classified as in Texas?
- What are the consequences of a conviction?
- Where can I find more information about arson in San Antonio?
The classification of arson crimes depends on the type of structure that was set fire to and whether the alleged act resulted in any injuries. Under Texas Penal Code § 28.02, an alleged offender who intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion and in so doing either recklessly damages or destroys a building belonging to another or recklessly causes another person to suffer bodily injury or death will be charged with a state jail felony.
It is also a state jail felony if an alleged offender recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion while manufacturing or attempting to manufacture a controlled substance and the fire or explosion damages any building, habitation, or vehicle. In such a case, this crime can become a felony of the third degree if any person suffered bodily injury or death because of the commission of the alleged offense.
Arson is a felony of the second degree if an alleged offender starts a fire—regardless of whether the fire continues after ignition—or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage any vegetation, fence, or structure on open-space land, or any building, habitation, or vehicle:
- Knowing that it is within the limits of an incorporated city or town;
- Knowing that it is insured against damage or destruction;
- Knowing that it is subject to a mortgage or other security interest;
- Knowing that it is located on property belonging to another;
- Knowing that it has located within it property belonging to another; or
- When the alleged offender is reckless about whether the burning or explosion will endanger the life of some individual or the safety of the property of another.
A second-degree felony arson offense can be upgraded to a felony of the first degree if bodily injury or death was suffered by any person by reason of the commission of the alleged offense or the property intended to be damaged or destroyed by the alleged offender was a habitation or a place of assembly or worship.
Arson crimes in Texas can result in some very severe penalties. Depending on the specific statute an alleged offender is accused of violating, a conviction can result in one of the following sentences:
- State Jail Felony — Up to two years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000;
- Third-Degree Felony — Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000;
- Second-Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000; or
- First-Degree Felony— Up to 99 years or life in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
It is important to note that arson charges may be couple with other serious criminal charges. For example, if investigators claim that an alleged offender set fire in an attempt to kill another person, a prosecutor may seek capital murder charges that could possibly result in the death penalty.
Arson Bureau | The City of San Antonio — The Arson Bureau investigates the causes of fires and explosions within the city limits of San Antonio, including fire-related deaths, life-threatening burn injuries, and suspected explosive devices. You can learn more about the Arson Bureau and how it handles investigations on this website. You can also find fire prevention tips and a link to the United States Fire Administration, the lead federal agency for fire data collection.
San Antonio Fire Department Headquarters
315 South Santa Rosa Avenue
San Antonio, TX 78207
Arson Investigations | Bexar County, TX — The Fire and Arson Investigations Division of the Bexar County Fire Marshal’s Office (BCFMO) investigates the origins and causes of fires and explosions in the county. You can learn more about the department’s investigations, enforcement, and regional support on this website. You can also download a volunteer application for investigators.
Bexar County Fire Marshal
San Antonio, Texas 78207
Arson and Juvenile Firestarting — Visit the website of the National Fire Protection Association which is the leading information and knowledge resource on fire, electrical and related hazards. Learn more about arson and juvenile firesetting including playing with fire and setting intentional fires. Find reports showing the size of the problem by property class and information on the items ignited, age characteristics of the juveniles involved, and lost data for property damage, deaths and injuries.
Find a Lawyer for Arson Defense in San Antonio, TX
If you have been arrested for or believe you could be the target of a criminal investigation for allegedly committing arson in Texas, it will be in your best interest to immediately contact Goldstein & Orr. Our criminal defense attorneys in San Antonio have protecting the rights of clients since 1968.
The attorneys at Goldstein & Orr are also experienced in representing juveniles charged with arson throughout Texas.
Gerry Goldstein and Cynthia Orr have both been Board Certified in Criminal Law and Criminal Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Van Hilley and Don Flanary have both been recognized as Texas Super Lawyers.
Goldstein & Orr represents alleged offenders accused of arson and related violent offenses. Our lawyers can provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (210) 226-1463 or complete an online contact form to arrange a free consultation.