Arson statutes generally apply to any intentional burning of a building and include homes, building materials and ammunition stores. Arson is more severely punished when it occurs with the knowledge, or it should have been reasonably known, that the building was occupied by a human being. Both federal and Florida laws include heavy fines and severe criminal penalties, including potential mandatory/minimum sentences of up to 25 years and maximum potential sentences of up to life. Mr. Petruzzi has represented numerous individuals charged with, or under investigation for, arson offenses by both federal and state authorities. His experience and knowledge serve as an invaluable asset to his clients.
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Federal arson offenses are investigated and prosecuted by various agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Justice. Some common federal statutes criminalizing arson include:
18 USC Sec. 81 –
Whoever, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns any building, structure or vessel, any machinery or building materials or supplies, military or naval stores, munitions of war, or any structural aids or appliances for navigation or shipping, or attempts or conspires to do such an act, shall be imprisoned for not more than 25 years, fined the greater of the fine under this title or the cost of repairing or replacing any property that is damaged or destroyed, or both. If the building be a dwelling or if the life of any person be placed in jeopardy, he shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both.
Florida arson offenses are investigated and prosecuted by various state and local law enforcement agencies. Some common Florida statutes criminalizing arson include:
806.01 Arson –
(1) Any person who willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages or causes to be damaged:
(a) Any dwelling, whether occupied or not, or its contents;
(b) Any structure, or contents thereof, where persons are normally present, such as: jails, prisons or detention centers; hospitals, nursing homes or other health care facilities; department stores, office buildings, business establishments, churches or educational institutions during normal hours of occupancy; or other similar structures; or
(c) Any other structure that he or she knew or had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied by a human being, is guilty of arson in the first degree, which constitutes a felony of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(2) Any person who willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages or causes to be damaged any structure, whether the property of himself or herself or another, under any circumstances not referred to in subsection (1), is guilty of arson in the second degree, which constitutes a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s.775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.
(3) As used in this chapter, “structure” means any building of any kind, any enclosed area with a roof over it, any real property and appurtenances thereto, any tent or other portable building, and any vehicle, vessel, watercraft, or aircraft.