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By Benson Varghese

Published on: March 30th, 2017 at 11:23 PM
Last Updated: September 16th, 2020 at 8:12 AM

What is arson in Texas?

In Texas, an individual commits arson if he or she starts a fire or explosion with the intent to destroy or damage land, fences, vegetation, buildings, homes or vehicles knowing that:

  • it is within the limits of an incorporated city or town:
  • it is insured against damage or destruction;
  • it is subject to a mortgage or other security interest;
  • it is located on property belonging to another;
  • it has located within it property belonging to another;

Additionally, when an individual is reckless about whether the explosion or burning can endanger the life of an individual or the safety of the property, arson can also be alleged.

What is the punishment for arson in Texas?

→ First-Degree Arson: If an individual commits arson that causes bodily injury or death, the offense is a first degree felony, punishable by five years to up to life in prison. If the structure that burned or exploded is a habitation or a place of worship such as a church or a mosque, it is also a felony of the first degree.

Second-Degree Arson: If an individual intentionally starts a fire to damage property – as opposed to causing death or serious harm – he or she looking at a second degree felony in Fort Worth. A second degree felony carries a punishment range of 2 to 20 years in prison. Generally, most people charged with arson face second-degree felonies.

Third-Degree Arson: If an individual recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion while manufacturing a controlled substance which resulted in bodily injury or death it is a third-degree felony, punishable to 2 to 10 years in prison. We often see these cases arise out of cooking methamphetamine or another similar substance.

→State Jail Felony Arson: All other fires or explosions that result from cooking methamphetamine or other similar conduct that causes damage to a vehicle, building or home are state jail felonies, punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility. An individual may also face a state jail felony if he or she starts a fire or explosion that leads to reckless damage or destruction to building or reckless injury or death.

arson in Fort WorthAre there exceptions or defenses to arson allegations in Fort Worth?

It’s important to point out that there is an exception to prosecution if the fire or explosion was part of a controlled burn on open spaced land or if, prior to starting a fire or explosion, the individual obtained a permit or written authorization.

Defending arson cases in Fort Worth

There is a lot of pseudoscience in arson investigations and that becomes an area ripe for attacking the prosecution’s case. The problem with inaccurate arson investigations is so great that it has become a focus of the Texas Forensic Commission. If you or a loved one has been charged with arson in Fort Worth, it’s imperative to have an experienced attorney who is skilled at defending complex cases. We have a prestigious roster of attorneys who have produced exceptions results for clients accused of serious felonies. If you are prepared to put our firm to work for you, contact us today for a free consultation.