Arson — intentionally set fires — results in approximately 375 deaths, 1,300 injuries, and $1 billion in direct property loss annually.
It’s no wonder that arson is considered a serious crime in Illinois, and the punishments are serious as well. If you are convicted, you could be faced with high fines and imprisonment, and you will have a criminal record that can have a devastating effect on your reputation, family life, education, career, livelihood and overall well-being.
If you are charged with arson, you need the best legal defense available, as prosecutors will be fighting to impose the steepest of punishments. The seasoned Illinois criminal arson defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. have extensive experience handling arson offenses and can help.
We know the court system and the judges, and we will work tirelessly to reach an outcome that is favorable to you, including possibly having charges dismissed or reduced. Our attorneys are thorough in the investigation process of a criminal arson case and make every effort to negotiate and resolve the issue outside the courtroom. If an agreement cannot be reached, we are experienced trial lawyers and know how to defend you in court.
We offer a free consultation, so contact us for help today at 630-305-0222 if you have been accused of any arson charges.
According to the Illinois criminal code (720 ILCS 5/20-1), arson occurs when someone knowingly uses fire or explosive to:
(1) Damage any real property, or any personal property having a value of $150 or more, of another person without consent; or
(2) With intent to defraud an insurer, damage any property or any personal property having a value of $150 or more.
Property “of another” means a building or other property in which someone else has an interest, even if the arsonist also has an interest or ownership in the building or property.
Arson can be considered “residential” when the property damaged is someone’s dwelling. “Place of worship” arson occurs when damage is to a church, synagogue or other location in which people worship.
“Aggravated” arson has harsher punishments. It is considered to be aggravated arson when:
(1) the perpetrator knows that one or more persons are inside the building; or
(2) any person suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement; or
(3) a fireman, policeman, or correctional officer on duty at the scene is injured.
Basic arson is a Class 2 felony, with a possible 3- to 7-year prison sentence. A residential arson or place of worship arson is a Class 1 felony, and is punishable by a 4- to 15-year prison sentence. Aggravated arson is a Class X Felony and carries a mandatory prison sentence of 6 to 30 years in prison. Our arson defense attorneys can defend you against all of these charges.
While local authorities may investigate non-suspicious fires, it is not uncommon for arson to involve concealment of a crime to cover up activities such as murder, burglary, destruction of records and auto theft, to eliminate evidence left at a crime scene, or even acts of terrorism. As a result, state or federal authorities may be called in to investigate arson.
In Illinois, the State Fire Marshal is responsible for investigating suspicious fires and explosions. Investigators are sworn peace officers and can interview witnesses, collect evidence, make arrests and appear in court.
An arson investigator may be called to the scene of a fire or explosion if:
If you are accused of arson in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find. Your case may seem impossible, but with skillful representation you have a chance. Remember, the law places a heavy burden on the government, and you have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Cases of arson are usually circumstantial, since there was no one present when the fire started, so there are many grounds where we can have evidence challenged. Charges may be totally dismissed or negotiated to a misdemeanor crime such as Trespass or Damage to Property.
The criminal arson defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We are aware that often those accused of arson may be falsely accused, and the charges are meritless.
Whether your criminal law case is seemingly straightforward or highly complicated, we can help. We know the judges and the court system and will aggressively explore every avenue for your defense. We examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the criminal process. We explain all elements and processes of the case and come up with an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.
We are aggressive litigators and will answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case. We represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.
Delaying can only make your situation worse, so contact us and call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.