Understanding arson and insurance fraud charges

As previously discussed on this Georgia blog, when damage is done to the property of others, this could result in criminal penalties. Even if it seems minimal or is supposed to be artistic, property crimes carry serious consequences. While property can be damaged when it is defaced, it can also be damaged by fire.

Arson, which is the willful and malicious burning or charring of property, can occur in a variety of ways. For example, an individual could face fraudulent intent for setting fire to his or her own home. In these matters, it is believed that the individual set fire to their home as a means to collect insurance money.

There are different degrees of arson. These are based on various factors, such as whether the building or dwelling was occupied and if insurance fraud was intended. A less serious arson charge could result if little damage was caused. On the other hand, if a person was killed because of arson, this could cause the accused to endure harsh, life-altering penalties.

When arson is suspected, law enforcement investigates the scene, using advanced chemical analyses to locate the point of origin. This helps establish what caused the fire and if an individual intentionally started it. This is also when insurance fraud is investigated. If it is determined that a suspect set their dwelling or business on fire to collect insurance money, then he or she could face arson and insurance fraud charges.

Losing a home or building to fire is an overwhelming experience, especially if one is accused of setting it on fire. If one is facing arson charges, it is important to understand the defense options. Errors and mistakes could be made during the investigation process. If evidence was not properly collected or investigation was not complete, this could help a defendant with their defense. Seeking legal guidance will not only help the accused become aware of their rights, but also the steps to take to protect them.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Arson," accessed on Jan. 14, 2018

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