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How does Florida define the crime of arson?

Florida law covers two types of Arson: first degree and second degree. Both variants are felonies with the severity of degree of the felony matching the severity of the act of arson itself.

It is possible to commit arson against almost any kind of structure located on real property: houses, commercial buildings, vehicles, sheds and even tents. The statute actually refers to real property (not the structures) as possibly being subject to arson.

Nor is arson restricted to burning down of blowing up the property of other people. Second degree arson includes destroying your own property as well as that of others.

There are distinctions between first and second degree arson. First degree arson is the most serious form of arson because it involves the destruction of a dwelling (regardless of whether anyone is inside), or any other structure that the perpetrator either knows or could reasonably foresee is occupied.

Depending on the circumstances, particularly whether anyone dies during the commission of the arson, the incarceration penalty for a first degree crime of this nature can be up to life in prison or even death.

Second degree arson occurs when there is an absence of people and the building is not a dwelling. It is the absence of people or the threat to people that lessens the crime of arson to second degree status.

Arson resulting in death is a capital felony if the killing was purposeful. It is a first degree felony if the killing was unintended. Because of its methodology, fire and explosives, arson is treated with grave seriousness under Florida law. Heavy fines can be expected from any conviction, and as shown above if someone dies even as an indirect result the prison sentence can go all the way up to life behind bars.

Arson is a complex area of criminal law that is presented as an overview by this post. You should not rely upon the information as legal advice. Defending yourself against a claim of arson, or murder in connection with arson, requires a highly experienced and skilled legal defense team. Your long-term freedom or even your life may depend on the performance of your defense counsel. Seek legal advice and guidance from an attorney.

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