Do you remember
Smokey Bear? He is an American mascot created in 1944 to educate the American public
about the dangers of starting wildfires.
Smokey is one of America’s most popular and recognizable images that
are not only protected by U.S. federal law, but administered by the USDA
Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters.
Since Smokey Bear has been around for generations, you might have seen
his image if you were in the Boy or Girl Scouts as a child, or if you
ever went camping.
Not only is preventing wildfires a national campaign, on the local and
state levels, starting fires is strictly prohibited because of the amount
of damage they can cause if they get out of control.
In Texas for example, it’s against the law to start a fire with the
intention of destroying or damaging a building, a fence, a habitation,
vegetation, a structure, or a vehicle when:
- It’s near the city limits of a city or town,
- It’s insured against property damage (insurance fraud),
- It’s a house secured by a mortgage,
- It belongs to someone else, and
- It’s located on someone else’s property.
It’s also illegal to recklessly start a fire or explosion when doing
so will endanger someone else’s safety or life, or someone else’s
property. When someone commits any of these acts, they commit the offense of
Section 28.02 of the Texas Penal Code.
What are the penalties for arson in Texas?
Generally, arson is prosecuted as a
state jail felony, unless the offense caused someone to suffer bodily injury or death, then
in that case it would be a
third degree felony.
For example, if you set someone’s shed on fire and the property owner
tried to put the fire out but he was burned in the process, you would face
third degree felony charges because the man was burned while trying to put the fire out. Even
if the burns were not serious, you could still be sent to prison.
A state jail
felony is punishable by 6 months to 2 years in jail, and by a maximum fine of
$10,000, whereas a third degree felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years
in prison, and by a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Arson charges are extremely serious and a conviction can lead to years
behind bars. If you’re being charged with arson in Plano or Dallas,
contact us for an aggressive defense!