Arson Criminal Defense

Deliberately setting a property on fire is arson, a criminal offense. In most cases, the crime is a felony, and that means years in jail and serious fines in the thousands. You may also be ordered – if convicted – to pay restitution for the property you allegedly burned.

S.L. England, an aggressive and resourceful criminal defense attorney representing clients in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia, knows how serious this offense can be for a person if convicted. It’s not only the punishment you face, but the collateral consequences caused by having a criminal record – like difficulty finding a job or a safe place to live. If you have been charged with an arson offense in the District of Columbia or Alexandria, Virginia, contact S.L. England today.

WHAT IS ARSON IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA?

In D.C., arson is governed by D.C. Criminal Code § 22–303. Under this code, a person commits arson when he or she destroys another person’s or entity’s property by fire. The property can be either real or personal property not belonging to the alleged offender. It is also criminal to burn your own property if doing so was intended to defraud or injure another person (D.C. Criminal Code § 22-302). 

The prosecutor must prove all the elements of the offense before you can be convicted, and that also means proving mens rea – you criminally intended to cause the fire to destroy or otherwise damage property. In some cases, too, the government must show that you acted without mitigation, meaning you did not act in the heat of passion after being adequately provoked.

Punishment can include the following:

  • if the property was not yours and the damage was valued at less than $200, you face up to $1,000 in fines and/or jail for up to 180 days;
  • if the property was not yours and the damage was valued at more than $200, you face up to $5,000 in fines and/or prison of up to 10 years;
  • if the property was yours and fraud is proven, you face up to 15 years in prison.

WHAT IS ARSON IN VIRGINIA?

In Virginia, arson is governed by Virginia Code §§ 18.2-77 to 18.2-88. The offense is most commonly charged under section 18.2-77, which refers to the malicious burning of a dwelling house (a place of residence) by fire or explosive device as opposed to any other structure or building. 

To win a conviction, the prosecutor must prove:

  • there was an incendiary act (in other words, burning);
  • you caused the incendiary act; and
  • you did it with criminal, malicious intent, meaning the incendiary act was not caused by an accident but was intentional and on purpose without just cause or excuse.

Punishment for any arson conviction can result in serious prison time and steep fines. The offense is only a Class 1 misdemeanor when the value of the damaged property is less than $200. This can result in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Anything above $200 is a felony.

The classification of the felony is dependent on the facts and circumstances of the crime. The maximum prison sentence is life in prison and the maximum fine is $100,000. The maximum punishment is reserved for worst-case scenarios, but it does exemplify the gravity of this offense and the need for an experienced criminal defense attorney.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF CHARGED WITH ARSON IN THE D.C./VIRGINIA METRO AREA?

Arson not only damages property, but it puts people’s lives at risk. That means the government will do all it can to prosecute and win a conviction. Contact S.L. England either online or at (202) 489-0720if you want a strong defense against the arson charges laid against you in Washington, D.C. or Alexandria, Virginia.

“Mr. England is one of the best lawyers I have encountered, he was always there whenever I had a question or needed information, he listens , he calls and replies in and out of working hours , his priority is his client! He has helped me in more than one aspect of the law ; family , business , contractual and other areas, he is super smart and very quick with solutions. I highly recommend Sheridan.”

Mariam Wagdy

“Mr. England is a real professional that gets you results and will fight for parents that are doing the right thing for their children. I recommend him especially to fathers that are fighting just to see their child.Great lawyer.Wonderful lawyer.Without a doubt.”

Martell Woodson

“I highly recommend S.L. England! He is an excellent attorney who has his clients back 110%.”

Karina Alvarado

“Mr. England is a real professional that gets you results and will fight for parents that are doing the right thing for their children. I recommend him especially to fathers that are fighting just to see their child.Great lawyer.Wonderful lawyer.Without a doubt.”

Martell Woodson

“Sheridan is an excellent attorney. He advised me on issues in family as well as civil law. What I like about him the most is that he was able to think outside of the box and provide constructive solutions. He understood the issues very quickly and gave me a helpful advice.”

Karolina Muyingo

“Mr. England is the go-to guy to get positive results. He was able to guide me in the right direction with some great referrals. I can count on him to get some resolutions.”

J Thalley

“Mr. England is absolute perfection. He is incredibly professional and follows through until the end. In the end I won. Thank you so much Mr. England for everything.”

J Angonett

“A fantastic attorney in every aspect. Cool dude also.”

C H

“I needed a strong litigator to handle a contractor dispute, Attorney Sheridan was amazing! Provided strong legal counsel, negotiated only the best terms for me as a client, and provided top notch service. I slept well every night knowing he was on my side.”

Alisha Commodore

“Amazing!! Very knowledgeable, on your side and professional. Highly recommended! Great work Sheridan!”

Norma B

“S.L. England is bright, caring and brilliant... Thank you for all of your help.”

Regelle Harris Tanjang

Ask Us A Question

Contact Us Today!

Washington, DC Office

1325 G Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005

New York Office

200 Park Avenue, Suite
1700 New York, NY 10017

Alexandria, Virginia Office

1800 Diagonal Road, Suite
600 Alexandria, VA 22314