This blog frequently discusses arson to keep Maryland residents informed about the severity of their situation if arrested for an unlawful fire. Most people fail to realize that a charge of arson can lead to serious consequences upon conviction.
Lawmakers on state and federal levels typically take a harsh approach to arson because it can endanger many lives and damage property. The possible penalties for Maryland arson convictions include up to 30 years of imprisonment and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
If you’ve been charged with an arson-related offense, you may have defense options you have not yet considered. Let’s look at just a couple.
No proof of intent
Maryland defines arson as the malicious or willful setting of fires or burning of property. Prosecutors must generally show that arson defendants deliberately started a fire to prove it was a willful or malicious act. With proper guidance, you may be able to show that the fire was unintentional and thus reduce the severity of the charge.
Perhaps someone identified you as the person they witnessed starting a fire and then fleeing the scene. Witness statements or testimony are not generally enough to prove who set the fire. In cases where the prosecutor depends heavily on the observations of others, you could potentially make a strong argument for mistaken identity.
These are just two possible defenses that could prove helpful in overcoming your arson charges or reducing their severity. The unique details of the incident could open other defense avenues to consider, such as lack of evidence or law enforcement errors. Having experienced legal guidance can help you understand your options.