ARSON OR ACCIDENT: WHAT FACTORS DETERMINE IF A FIRE IS THE RESULT OF ARSON

How do firefighters determine if a fire that destroys property is caused by accident or arson? Often the initial investigation and fact finding of firefighters leads law enforcement to make an arrest on arson charges. If an arson investigation is moving forward contact a Clearwater Criminal Defense Attorney familiar with arson investigations and prosecutions as soon as possible to make certain that the process is fair and that any evidence of an accidental fire is not destroyed or mislaid.

if your'e investigated for arson contact a defense lawyer for advice because arson investigations are often wrong in clearwater largo st.petersburg and tampa bay florida
Joseph Wright, Cottage on Fire, 1787

A recent arson arrest of the owner of a Gulfport hardware store in Tampa Bay Florida gives insight into how arson investigations are conducted and into how a good lawyer could mount possible defenses. According to press reports the fire investigators came to a conclusion that the fire was an arson and not an accident based on the following factors:

  1. The fire had multiple areas of origin. Typically an accidental fire would have only one area of origin. For example an electrical fire would come from one failed circuit. 
  2. The fire spread rapidly. This reason is not very strong for a hardware store as one would expect the store to have many paints, solvents and flammable material which would make this blaze have a faster and more intense burn rate than others.
  3. There is surveillance video which law enforcement claims is an indicia of guilt, but has not been further explained.
  4. Though not in press reports one assumes the investigation made factual determinations as to whether the property was insured and how the on-going business was doing financially as a possible motive for arson.

It’s often difficult to be certain of guilt in arson cases. A New Yorker article Trial by Fire told of a gruesome Texas arson case where the Defendant was found guilty, sentenced to death and executed for arson murder yet was likely innocent. What went wrong? From the beginning arson investigators jumped to easy assumptions that included tainted expert testimony at trial, which is why you want a Clearwater Criminal Lawyer defending you if you’re investigated for arson or any other crime.