Arson is considered a very serious felony in Washington State. For this reason, arson is investigated by special units within law enforcement. These law enforcement units use advanced chemical analyses to locate the point of origin of a fire. Due to the significant loss of life and property that occurs as a result of arson crimes, law enforcement will sometimes take months or years to fully investigate before a case is charged. Law enforcement looks at the motivation behind this crime when conducting the investigation. In some cases, arson is committed as an act of retaliation for cooperation with the police, or in the case of domestic violence issues to hide another crime including murder and for financial gain. In some case, people will engage in arson to commit insurance fraud and get quick money. For these reasons, law enforcement uses major resources in fighting and prosecuting arson crimes.
According to Washington State RCW 9A.48.020, a person is guilty of arson in the first degree if he or she knowingly and maliciously:
Causes a fire or explosion which is manifestly dangerous to any human life, including firefighters; or
Causes a fire or explosion which damages a dwelling; or
Causes a fire or explosion in any building in which there shall be at the time a human being who is not a participant in the crime; or
Causes a fire or explosion on property valued at ten thousand dollars or more with intent to collect insurance proceeds.
Arson in the first degree is a class A felony.
A class A felony is punishable by up to life in prison and a $50,000 fine. The average sentence from a judge for arson in the first degree in Washington State is twenty-six months in prison and a monetary fine. The amount of prison time that one will serve can significantly increase if other crimes were committed in conjunction with the intentional setting of a fire such as domestic abuse, murder, involuntary manslaughter, insurance fraud, and/or the possession of a fire arm. A past criminal conviction can also affect the amount of time that someone will serve in prison for intentionally starting a fire.
Legal Representation in Washington State
If charged with arson in Tacoma, Seattle, or another city in Washington State, it is important that you contact a lawyer right away. A lawyer can help mitigate the charges. Stephen G. Johnson’s goal is to help you have the best possible chance at trial.
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