Georgia law defines arson as the willful and malicious burning or charring of property. Because not all courts treat arson cases the same, your first step should be a consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help determine the best way to proceed with your case. For example, knowingly setting fire to a building or vehicle (first-degree arson) is considered a much more serious crime than setting fire to an individual’s personal property (third-degree arson). In addition, penalties may become more severe if the fire was intended to injure others.
An arson conviction may result in serious consequences that impact a person’s livelihood and reputation. Here are four of the most severe penalties that stem from an arson conviction:
The State of Georgia prosecutes all arson crimes as felonies. A felony conviction may limit an individual’s ability to pursue higher education, find employment, obtain a mortgage or automobile loan, and rent a home, among other things.
An individual who commits arson typically faces significant prison time, depending on the severity of the charge. In Georgia, first-degree arson is punishable by up to 20 years in prison for each offense, second-degree may result in 10 years in prison per offense, and third-degree can include no more than five years in prison.
Restitution and Fines
All types of arson crimes are punishable in Georgia by hefty fines. Defendants convicted of first-degree can face fines of up to $50,000, while those charged with second and third-degree arson may be subject to fines up to $25,000 and $10,000 respectively. Lastly, a judge may require an individual make repayment of any damages inflicted by the crime.
With a charge as serious as arson, it is critical that you seek strong representation immediately. Often the key to a successful arson defense is hiring the right expert early in the case. ATC Law criminal defense attorneys Pat McDonough and Trinity Hundredmark are some of Georgia’s most respected and sought-after defense lawyers. Our goal is to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family, no matter what the circumstances of your case. Call our office at 770-822-0900 for more information or to request a case evaluation.
Patrick J. McDonough leads the criminal defense division for Andersen, Tate & Carr, and is among the most sought after criminal defense attorneys in the state of Georgia. He has received national attention from the news media, and has been featured in leading publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, AJC and Forbes. His criminal practice includes both state and federal white-collar and general criminal defense.