Have you Been Charged with Arson in the Third Degree?
Arson is a severe crime and is one that has multiple crimes associated with it. Arson is broken down into three different degrees: first-degree arson, second-degree arson, and third-degree arson. It is important to understand the differences between each degree and how to best defend against the charge. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Arson Attorneys have decades of criminal experience and understand to craft the best defense based on your specific case. Contact our office for a free case evaluation.
Georgia Law on Arson in the Third Degree
There are multiple ways in which a person can commit arson in the third degree. O.C.G.A. §16-7-62(a) states that a person commits arson in the third degree when, by means of fire or explosive, he or she knowingly damages or knowingly causes, aids, abets, advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to damage:
- Any personal property of another without his or her counsel or in which another has a security interest, including but not limited to a lien, without the consent of both and the value of the property is $25.00 or more;
- Any personal property when such is insured against loss or damage by fire or explosive and the loss or damage is accomplished without the consent of both the insurer and insured and the value of the property is $25.00 or more; or
- Any personal property with the intent to defeat, prejudice, or defraud the rights of a spouse or co-owner and the value of the property is $25.00 or more.
Third-degree arson has also been committed when, in the commission of a felony, by means of fire or explosive, the suspect knowingly damages or knowingly causes, aids, abets, advises, encourages, hires, counsels, or procures another to damage anything included or described in subsection (a).
Penalty for Arson in the Third Degree
A person convicted of arson in the third degree in Georgia will be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000, or by a prison term between one and five years, or both. It will be a felony conviction.
3rd Degree Arson Defenses in Georgia
It was accidental: Evidence proving that the damage was committed without the knowledge of harming or intending to damage would be greatly beneficial to your case.
The value of the property was less than $25.00: Arson in the third degree applies when the value of the property is $25.00 or more. If the property is valued at less than that, then you cannot be charged with arson in the third degree.
The damage was not done by fire or explosive: Third-degree arson requires that the destruction is done by fire or explosive. If there is proof that the property was not damaged by one of those ways, then you cannot be guilty of arson. However, you could still be guilty of another crime.
What Are Not Defenses
I was not the one to damage the property: You do not have to be the one who actually harms the property to be convicted of third-degree arson. If there is proof that you encouraged, hired, counseled, aided, caused, or advised another to damage the property that will be sufficient.
A conviction for arson in any degree comes with significant consequences. You need legal assistance from the very beginning in order to have a chance at winning your case. The office of Lawson and Berry has over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience and their attorneys are some of Georgia's best. They are here to answer any questions you may have and to defend you to the best of their ability. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. Remember a charge is not the same as a conviction so do not give up on your case.