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Criminal Arson Defense in Utah

Arson charges in Utah can carry serious penalties including years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. If you are facing criminal prosecution for arson, the right criminal defense team can make all the difference. Contact us today to see how we can help you.

Arson Charges and Penalties in Utah

What distinguishes ordinary arson from aggravated arson in Utah?

Criminal Arson Defense LawyerThe Utah Code sections governing arson crimes are found in sections 76-6-102 and 76-6-103. The key difference between ordinary arson and aggravated arson involves what is burned. Specifically, an arson offense becomes aggravated arson if the burning involves a "habitable structure" or any other structure or vehicle when some person (other than the defendant) is in the structure or vehicle.

The enhanced offense of aggravated arson is based on the concern for human safety. A habitable structure (such as an apartment, house, etc.) is more likely to have a person inside. Burning such a structure therefore creates a greater risk of harm to other people. For similar reasons, burning any other structure or vehicle when another person is actually present is subject to the same aggravated enhancement.

What are the penalties for aggravated arson?

Aggravated arson is classified as a first degree felony under the Utah criminal code. As a first degree felony, it is punishable by a prison term of no less than five years and which may be as long as life. A prison sentence is not mandatory under Utah's sentencing rules, but can be suspended by the court. If probation is granted, the court may still impose up to a year in jail as a condition of probation.

What is the level of offense for an non-aggravated arson?

Defense Attorney for Utah Criminal ChargesFor a non-aggravated arson charge, the level of offense will be determined by the value of the property destroyed or the cost of repairing damaged property. For example, property damage valued at over $5,000 can result in a second degree felony charge and up to 15 years in prison. On the other hand, damages of only a few hundred dollars are likely to result in a misdemeanor charge.

What about accidental burning?

Utah's arson statutes require proof that the burning or destruction of property was intentional. There are other statutes that can criminalize accidental fires, recklessness, and other conduct that does not involve intentional destruction or damage to property.

Can an arson charge be filed if I burn my own property?

Most Utah arson cases will involve allegations that a person intentionally destroyed or damaged property of another person using fire or explosives. But arson charges can also be filed when a person burns their own property if the burning is done for purposes of defrauding an insurance company or filing a fraudulent claim.

What should I do if I am charged with arson in Utah?

The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to remain silent. If you are contacted by police or investigators in connection with an arson investigation, consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney is highly advised before talking with police or investigators. it is important to avoid making statements that could be used against you, especially if you are innocent. Regardless of guilt or innocence, the right criminal defense team can help make sure that your rights are protected.

Finding the Right Attorney

Whether filed as a felony or a misdemeanor, an arson charge in Utah can carry serious consequences. Any criminal conviction is serious. Arson charges carry particularly strong risks. The potential for loss of life or serious damage to property or loss of life can lead Utah prosecutors to pursue this type of case with greater rigor. Having the right criminal defense attorney on your side can be critical. Contact us now and see how we can help.


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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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