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Boston Arson Defense Attorney

Experienced Defense Strategies for Violent Crimes Charges Like Arson

Both Arson 1 and Arson 2 are considered serious crimes in the state of Massachusetts. Arson 1 and Arson 2 differ in regard to evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Allow us to explain…

The Three Elements Required to Prove Arson 1

  1. A defendant caused a building to be burned: The first element that the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the defendant set fire to, burned, or caused to be burned the building in question. This requires that some portion of the building must have actually been on fire and burned.
  2. That the building was a dwelling house, or was joined to a dwelling house: The second element that the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that burned building was a dwelling house, a building adjoining or adjacent to a dwelling house, or any building the burning of which results in a dwelling house being burned. In this context, the phrase “dwelling house” means and includes “all buildings used as dwellings, such as apartment houses, tenement houses, hotels, boarding houses, dormitories, hospitals, institutions, sanitoria, or other buildings” where people live or reside. The Commonwealth must prove that the building is capable of being occupied as a dwelling, is adjoining or adjacent to a dwelling house, or is a building the burning of which results in a dwelling house being burned. Further, it does not matter if the defendant owned the dwelling house or if it was owned by another.
  3. A defendant acted willfully and maliciously: The third element that the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that the defendant willfully and maliciously set fire to or caused the building to be burned. Willfulness and malice are required to constitute the state of mind necessary to commit arson. The word willfully means that the act was intentional and by design, rather than an act that was thoughtless or accidental. A person acting willfully intends his or her conduct as well as the harm that resulted. By requiring the element of willfulness, acts of accidental or negligent burnings will not be classified as arson.

The Commonwealth also must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted maliciously or with malice. In the context of this statute, “malice” and “maliciously” hold a different meaning than the ordinary definition of the terms. In the case of arson, malice characterizes all acts done with an evil disposition, with a wrong and unlawful motive or purpose or the willful doing of an injurious act without lawful excuse. A burning is malicious if it is done with any wrongful or unlawful motive or purpose and without lawful excuse.

The Elements Required to Prove Arson 2

To prove Arson 2, the defendant must have aided, counseled, or procured the burning of a dwelling house or building, and the building that was burned must have been a dwelling house or a building that was joined to a dwelling house.

If the Commonwealth fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty of arson under the first theory of arson, then you could be considered guilty under the second theory of arson. In order to prove that the defendant is guilty under the second theory of arson, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally aided, counseled, or procured the burning.

  • In order to prove this element of arson, it is not sufficient for the Commonwealth to prove that the defendant merely knew that a crime was going to be committed. Mere association with the person who set the fire is not enough. Mere presence at the scene of the crime is not enough, even when combined with knowledge of the planned act. A mere failure to take appropriate steps to prevent the commission of the crime or mere acquiescence is not sufficient.
  • The Commonwealth must prove that a defendant aided, counseled or procured the burning of a dwelling house or building. This means that the defendant participated in committing the crime of arson by agreeing to stand by, at, or near the scene of the crime to render aid, assistance or encouragement, if it became necessary, to the person who set fire to or caused the burning of the dwelling house; or by assisting the perpetrator to make an escape from the scene; or by procuring another person to burn a dwelling house.

The Importance of Knowing Your Rights When Charged with Arson

When facing a violent crime charge like arson, knowing your legal rights is crucial. If left in the dark about any of your rights at this time, law enforcement and/or the prosecution could set you up for increased penalties and fines. Did you know, for instance, that a defendant’s mere presence at the scene, even combined with the knowledge of the planned act, isn’t enough to prove Arson 2? Thus, it is vital to know your rights if you are faced with Arson 1 or Arson 2 charges. It is highly recommended to find an Arson 1 and Arson 2 lawyer who can strategically defend your rights at this time.

Hire Brad Bailey Law to Fight Your Arson Charges in Boston

The best way to fight arson charges is with proven defense by your side. Hire Brad Bailey Law and you’ll benefit from the following:

  • Attorney Brad Bailey earned rare (across the board) federal not guilty jury verdicts in United States v. Michael Vaccaro, a notable firebomb/arson case involving an occupied dwelling.
  • He believes in utilizing creativity for challenging cases and unique situations.
  • He has repeatedly been named to the coveted list of Massachusetts Super Lawyers and has an “Outstanding Prosecutor” rating.
  • He is a Boston arson defense lawyer who has decades of experience practicing criminal law in courtrooms throughout Massachusetts.

To contact Mr. Bailey for arson defense in Boston, please set up a confidential phone consultation today by dialing (617) 500-0252. You can also contact us via our online message form here.

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