If you set fire to almost anything, with the intent to destroy or damage it, you can be charged with arson. “Almost anything” includes not only buildings and homes, but also vehicles, fences, or any form of vegetation. Under Texas law, even if you set a fire, and it immediately goes out, you’re still guilty of arson. Also, if it’s alleged you set a fire or caused an explosion while manufacturing, or attempting to manufacture, a controlled substance, you can likewise be charged with arson. Under most circumstances, arson is a second degree felony, punishable by 2 to 20 years in the state penitentiary, and a fine up to $10,000.
Arson Charged as a 1st Degree Felony
However, if it’s alleged that the arson resulted in bodily injury or death, or that the structure damaged by the arson was a home or a place of worship, it’s charged as a 1st degree felony, and carries a penalty range of 5 to 99 or life in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. If you’ve been arrested for arson, you need serious legal help. Call the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Berlof & Newton, P.C. at 214.827.2800, or contact one of our attorneys by using the “Get Legal Help Now!” form in the left margin of this web page. Free consultation. Our lawyers each have over 15 years experience in the practice of criminal law. Se habla español.
Texas Penal Code Section 28.02 Arson
(a) A person commits an offense if the person starts a fire, regardless of whether the fire continues after ignition, or causes an explosion with intent to destroy or damage: (1) any vegetation, fence, or structure on open-space land; or (2) any building, habitation, or vehicle: (A) knowing that it is within the limits of an incorporated city or town; (B) knowing that it is insured against damage or destruction; (C) knowing that it is subject to a mortgage or other security interest; (D) knowing that it is located on property belonging to another; (E) knowing that it has located within it property belonging to another; or (F) when the person is reckless about whether the burning or explosion will endanger the life of some individual or the safety of the property of another.
(a-1) A person commits an offense if the person 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. (a-2) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion and in so doing: (1) recklessly damages or destroys a building belonging to another; or (2) recklessly causes another person to suffer bodily injury or death.
(b) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (a)(1) that the fire or explosion was a part of the controlled burning of open-space land.
(c) It is a defense to prosecution under Subsection (a)(2)(A) that prior to starting the fire or causing the explosion, the actor obtained a permit or other written authorization granted in accordance with a city ordinance, if any, regulating fires and explosions.
(d) An offense under Subsection (a) is a felony of the second degree, except that the offense is a felony of the first degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that: (1) bodily injury or death was suffered by any person by reason of the commission of the offense; or (2) the property intended to be damaged or destroyed by the actor was a habitation or a place of assembly or worship.
(e) An offense under Subsection (a-1) is a state jail felony, except that the offense is a felony of the third degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that bodily injury or death was suffered by any person by reason of the commission of the offense.
(f) An offense under Subsection (a-2) is a state jail felony.(g) If conduct that constitutes an offense under Subsection (a-1) or that constitutes an offense under Subsection (a-2) also constitutes an offense under another subsection of this section or another section of this code, the actor may be prosecuted under Subsection (a-1) or Subsection (a-2), under the other subsection of this section, or under the other section of this code.
Acts 1973, 63rd Leg., p. 883, ch. 399, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1974. Amended by Acts 1979, 66th Leg., p. 1216, ch. 588, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1979; Acts 1981, 67th Leg., p. 1837, ch. 425, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1981; Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 31, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1989; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1006, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 976, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001. Amended by: Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 960, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2005. Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1168, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.
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