In the state of Colorado, there are four different classes of arson, with penalties varying widely between each class. If investigators determine that people were in the structure at the time of the fire and put at risk of bodily injury or death, the accused could face a mandatory prison sentence. If you or someone you know is up against arson charges, a Colorado Front Range arson lawyer could provide you astute counsel at every point of your case.
A seasoned criminal defense lawyer at Nicol Gersch Law could advise you of your rights and could help you pursue a positive conclusion to your case.
Arson is classified as a felony if:
However, if someone burns a property that is not an occupied structure or building, the accused had no intent to defraud anyone, if the damage totaled less than $100, or if no one was at risk from the fire, then the arson is categorized as a misdemeanor. Read on to find out more about the various methods of committing arson and the possible penalties associated with each.
Under Colorado Revised Statutes §18-4-102, first-degree arson is classified as a class 3 felony. Basically, first-degree arson is burning an occupied building or structure or damaging an occupied building or structure by means of fire without the owner’s consent. If convicted of first-degree arson, the individual could face penalties including 4 to 12 years imprisonment with 5 years of mandatory parole and fines ranging from $3,000 to $750,000. Let us say that again… Just the FINES are ¾ of a million dollars in some situations. That’s over and above court costs, victim impact fees, civil damages awards, and criminal restitution payable to the wronged individuals or companies. An experienced arson attorney can help you build a case to prove your innocence, mitigating the damages and financial consequences to you along the way.
C.R.S. §18-4-103 categorizes second-degree arson as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the extent of the property damage. Second-degree arson is burning any property OTHER THAN an occupied building or structure, without the consent of the owner. With damage equaling $100 or more, it’s an F4. Less than $100 in damage, is an M2. Penalties include two to six year’s imprisonment with three years of mandatory parole and fines ranging from $2,000 to $500,000 for the felony-level offense. For the misdo, potential punishments range from 3 to 12 month’s imprisonment and fines between $250 and $1,000.
The determination of property value is usually made by a jury based on the evidence brought forth at trial. If convicted, the court could order the individual to pay restitution to the party whose property was damaged, burned, or destroyed. An experienced arson attorney would see that all evidence that could work in the person’s favor is presented before the jury to maximize the chances of a fair ruling.
C.R.S. 18-4-104 defines third-degree arson as a class 4 felony. This particular type of arson simply is burning property with intent to defraud. Penalties could include anywhere from two to six year’s imprisonment with three years mandatory parole and fines ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.
Fourth-degree arson could be categorized as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the fire. Under C.R.S. 18-4-105, when another individual is at risk of being killed or seriously injured by the accused’s reckless (or knowing) actions in starting a fire, fourth-degree arson is an F4. Penalties could include two to six year’s imprisonment with three year’s mandatory parole, and fines ranging from $2,000 to $500,000.
If another person’s property is in danger by the accused’s reckless (or knowing) actions in starting a fire (not a person at risk—just property of another), fourth-degree arson is categorized as an M2 or M3, depending on the value of property put in danger. In the case of property worth $100 or more, it is an M2 with potential consequences including anywhere from three to 12 month’s imprisonment and fines ranging from $250 to $1,000. If the property was worth less than $100, it’s an M3 with possible penalties including up to six month’s imprisonment and fines between $50 and 750.
With so many variations in the law, an accomplished Colorado Front Range arson attorney could proactively defend the accused and detect any weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Keep in mind, the prosecutor would also have to prove the value of the property damaged and a successful defense attorney needs to be good with numbers in these cases. Justie and Jenn at Nicol Gersch Law excel at detailed valuations, and Justie even has an undergraduate degree in Accounting.
If you are accused of arson, a Colorado Front Range arson lawyer could vigorously defend your case. An experienced attorney could provide you thorough guidance and advise you of your options to proceed. Call today for your initial case consultation to discuss your case and find out what defensive strategies are possible.