In Michigan, arson is the deliberate burning of a house or building. The punishment for being convicted of an arson crime often depends on the intent behind the act, the amount of damage done, and whether or not someone was seriously injured or killed.
Regardless of how "harmless" you might think setting even a small fire is, arson is always considered a very serious crime because the potential for substantial loss of life and property exists. You need an aggressive experienced defense team on your side as early as possible to ensure a full and thorough investigation is conducted on your behalf. Our attorneys are skilled in dealing with overzealous police and insurance fraud investigators who are quick to judge a fire as suspicious. Our firm utilizes only the most respected experts in the field of arson investigation forensics to offer evidence that a fire was accidental as opposed to intentionally set.
The state of Michigan distinguishes among three types of arson:
The above distinctions may seem fairly meaningless, and in reality, there are basically two types of arson that the Michigan legal system deals with: insurance fraud and malicious arson cases in which someone purposely destroys property without intending to collect on insurance.
Many cases of arson, especially in economically depressed areas of Michigan, stem from attempted insurance fraud: the owner of a house or building discovers that his insurance payout in the case of a fire is more than the property is worth, and he/she either sets fire to the property himself/herself, or hires someone to set an "accidental" fire.
Michigan authorities investigate the cause of most fires, but it's often independent investigators working on behalf of insurance companies, who will find conclusive evidence of arson if it took place. Insurance companies are businesses and look for reasons not to pay on claims: for this reason they are often even more aggressive than authorities in looking for evidence to support an arson charge.
If someone sets a fire to collect in insurance they can be charged with more than one crime: one for arson and another for insurance fraud.
The other type of arson is not driven by the hope of financial gain by destroying property. Malicious arson is when a person deliberately sets some type of property or structure on fire such as a house or building, either because there was some dispute with the owner of the property or the arsonist is just trying to wreak random damage. For example, a group of teenagers who burn down an abandoned building because it seemed like a good idea at the time may not have meant any true harm but still committed a crime.
Any type of malicious arson can result in the injury or death of residents whether or not it is intentional, because fires can easily grow out of control. People who set fires can face serious charges and criminal penalties whether or not they intended to harm someone else.
If an act of arson, no matter what the motivation, results in the injury or death of any person, the perpetrator will certainly face additional charges of murder or assault. What many would-be arsonists fail to realize is that this provision also applies to firefighters and other emergency personnel. Burning down an abandoned, unoccupied building may seem like a victimless crime, but fires have to be put out; and if a firefighter dies while attempting to extinguish an intentionally set fire, the arsonist will be charged with murder as well.
Depending on the charge, an arson conviction could put you in jail for as long as 20 years. If an arson crime results in the deliberate death or serious injury of another person, the penalties include up to life in prison.
Our goal is always to achieve the very best case results for our clientele. If you have been charged with any type of arson, you need a seasoned lawyer from Grabel & Associates at your side. Arson can be a notoriously difficult crime to prove, and our attorneys will aggressively fight to rebut, or contradict, the evidence gathered by the police or insurance investigator. Our lawyers are extremely skilled in achieving a favorable outcome, especially if the crime resulted in no injuries or deaths and the property damage was fairly minor.
For a free consultation to discuss how an arson lawyer from Grabel & Associates can help you, call us toll-free at 1-800-342-7896, or you can use the contact form on this website to email our law firm.