Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Arson is a serious crime in Colorado. A person is said to have committed arson if the person intentionally or recklessly sets fire to their own or someone else’s property. In Colorado, it is usually charged as either first, second, third, or fourth-degree arson, depending on the circumstances of the crime.

Because of how complex arson cases are, it is the reason one should seek the help of a Denver criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Many police departments and even insurance companies spend a dime trying to prove them. They often rely on direct evidence but will depend on circumstantial evidence, which is primarily scientific. That’s why you need a skilled attorney by your side.

When accused of arson in Denver, you have several defenses at your disposal. Sometimes involving a fire expert in your case can mean the difference between freedom and a conviction with a possible jail term. Read on to understand how to defend yourself against these charges.

What Are the Common Arson Cases?

An arson case is built on specific evidence. Therefore, you’ll need a Denver defense attorney who has the creativity and knowledge to challenge these charges aggressively.

The most common arson cases we’ve seen include:

  • Negligent use of fire
  • Committing insurance fraud through home fire
  • Business based insurance fraud
  • Setting fire to woods
  • Setting fire to a religious building
  • Setting a house on fire
  • Arson to conceal another crime

What If the Fire Was Accidental?

Sometimes a fire is accidental. Maybe a candle or a clothing iron was left on, a gas leak or even a cigarette left carelessly which touched a piece of furniture. When a fire is an accident, the person may not be charged with a crime but may be accused of negligence – which won’t result in a conviction.

With the help of experienced arson lawyers in Denver, an expert can show the courts that the fire was accidental and not intentional. If the lawyer decides to use this method of defense, there are various techniques to it.

What’s The Penalty for Arson in Denver?

As mentioned earlier, Colorado classifies arson into first, second, third, and fourth degree.

First-degree arson in Colorado is a class 3 felony. The consequent punishment is 4 – 12 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 -$750,000. However, if you used an explosive, it is considered a crime of violence which attracts a mandatory sentence of 10-32 years in prison.

Second-degree arson can either be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the destroyed property’s value. If the property is valued at less than $100, it will be charged as a misdemeanor which is punished by a 3-12-month jail term or/and a fine of $250-$1,000. However, if the damaged property’s worth was more than $100, the charge would be pursued as a felony which carries a 2-6-year jail term and/or a fine of $250-$1,000.

Third-degree arson in Colorado is classified as a class 4 felony with a sentence of 2-6 years in prison and/or a fine of $2,000-$500,000.

Fourth-degree arson can be a class 2 misdemeanor, class 3 misdemeanor, or class 4 felony. A class 4 felony is typically brought if a person was endangered due to your reckless actions. As a class 4 felony, the punishment is 2-6 years in prison and/or $2,000-$500,000 in fines.

If only property worth more than $100 was endangered, it would be charged as a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by 3-12 months in jail or/and $250-$1,000 in fines. If no one’s life was threatened, but the property threatened was worth less than $100, it will be charged as a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or $50-$750 in fines.

What Are the Common Defense Strategies for Arson in Colorado?

As you’ve seen, the consequences of arson are pretty serious. However, you still have a chance of fighting a Denver arson charge. Some of the best defense approaches for arson in Denver, CO, include:

Accidental Fire

The prosecution has the burden of proof to show that you intentionally started the fire. If there’s evidence to this fact, your criminal defense lawyer may not try to disapprove. But your attorney can argue that you did not intentionally start the fire. If your lawyer is successful, an arson in the first, second, or third-degree may be dropped or reduced to a fourth-degree arson charge.

The Property Was Worth Less Than $100

This is a partial defense strategy for second and fourth-degree arson, which have less punishment for a less valued property.

The Investigations Were Incomplete

Law enforcers often conclude that someone started the fire if they cannot establish the real cause of the fire. If this is the case, your Denver arson lawyer can get an expert who can analyze the evidence and the scene better in an attempt to find flaws in the investigations.

No Intend to Defraud

Third-degree arson defendants are often accused of setting a building or house on fire to get insurance funds. But if the Denver attorney can show that this wasn’t the goal, the charges may be reduced.

Other defense approaches include:

  • You were a victim of mistaken identity
  • Falsely accused
  • No one was endangered during the fire
  • This is also a partial defense strategy to a fourth-degree arson charge
  • The property was yours
  • The owner of the property consented to you burning it
  • Law enforcement officers showed misconduct during your arrest or investigation

Will A Denver Criminal Defense Attorney Defend Arson Charges Against Me in Denver?

A skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney may help you avoid some of these penalties. Not always do these charges end up in convictions. Once you hire an arson defense attorney, they will probably engage experts to determine:

  • Burn patterns
  • Damage patterns
  • Flame intensity

In some cases, even forensic accountants may be involved to evaluate your finances and show that you were not in desperate need of money.

Strong Legal Representation from A Reputable Defense Lawyer

An arson charge can suddenly cause panic. However, there’s still hope. And this hope lies in working closely with a knowledgeable and experienced arson defense attorney in Denver, CO.

Put your life in the hands of a seasoned criminal defense attorney who will work tirelessly to change your outcomes. Get in touch with attorney Daniel M. Murphy today and quickly learn your legal options in detail.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.