What is arson in Texas?
Arson is defined in Penal Code 28.02 and it involves causing an explosion or setting fire to land, buildings, or other property. A person commits arson when they start a fire or cause an explosion with intent to destroy or damage any vegetation, fence or structure on open space land or any building, habitation or vehicle knowing it is within the limits of an incorporated city or town, it is insured, it is subject to mortgage or security interest, it is on property belonging to another, it has property within it, or the person who starts the fire or explosion is reckless about whether it will endanger the life or safety of property or persons.
There is an exception to prosecution for vegetation, fence or structure on open spaced land if it is part of a controlled burn on open spaced land as well as a defense to prosecution of burning or exploding a building, habitation or vehicle if the actor obtained a permit or written authorization.
What is the punishment for arson in Texas?
First Degree Arson in Texas
If a person commits arson that causes bodily injury or death, the offense is a first degree felony. If the structure 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 in Texas
Arson is generally a second degree felony in Texas. A second degree felony carries a punishment range of two to twenty years in prison.
Third Degree Arson in Texas
According to the Penal Code, a person who recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion while manufacturing a controlled substance which damages a building, habitation or vehicle, has also committed arson. In the case of cooking meth or another similar substance, a person who starts a fire or an explosion which causes bodily injury or death has committed a felony of the third degree.
State Jail Felony Arson in Texas
All other fires or explosions that result from a meth cook or other similar conduct are state jail felonies. The final portion of the arson statute addresses a person who recklessly starts a fire or causes an explosion or damages or destroys a building belonging to another. In such a case, arson would be punished as a state jail felony.
Defending Arson Cases in Texas
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 north Texas and are prepared to put our firm to work for you, contact us at (817) 203-2220 or online: