What Are 1st And 2nd Degree Arson?
Arson and Criminal Mischief are crimes of intentional property damage
First degree arson is committed when a person willfully and unlawfully, or while committing a felony, uses fire or explosives to damage the following:
- Any dwelling (occupied or not),
- Any structure where people are normally present, or
- Any other structure that he or she knows or reasonably knows is occupied.
Second degree arson is committed when a person willfully and unlawfully, or while committing a felony, uses fire or explosives to damage any property not included in the first-degree arson.
Arson and Criminal Mischief are charges that aren’t taken lightly in the state of Florida and can result in hefty fines, community service, or jail time for those accused. Arson and Criminal Mischief are crimes of intentional property damage under Florida law that can carry with them hefty prison terms.
Criminal Mischief in Florida is, simply put, the willful and unlawful damage of property, and Arson is the willful and unlawful damage of property with fire. A third crime that falls under the umbrella of Arson and Criminal Mischief is Burning to Defraud an Insurer (i.e. burning down a house in hopes of obtaining an insurance settlement).
Arson Resulting In Injury
In order to prove the crime of Arson Resulting in Injury, the prosecution must establish these three elements of the crime:
You willfully and unlawfully instigated an explosion or a fire or, while you were engaged in the commission of a felony you triggered an explosion or a fire. The fire or explosion you were responsible for damaged:
- A dwelling (occupied or non-occupied);
- A structure or the contents of a structure in which people are normally present at the time of the explosion or fire;
- A structure that you knew—or should have known—would be occupied at the time of the explosion or fire, or
- A structure owned by yourself with circumstances other than those listed above.
Burning To Defraud An Insurer
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
(1) You either:
- Burned property;
- Attempted burning the property;
- Attempted to set on fire the property;
- Caused the burning of the property;
- Set on fire the property; or aided, advised, or hired the burning of the property;
(2) The property belonged to you;
(3) The property was insured against loss or damage; and
(4) You willfully and with a fully-formed conscious intent on injuring or defrauding the insurer.
When a person defrauds an insurer, they also likely commit the crime of arson. This means that the person can be charged and convicted for defrauding an insurer and arson. Arson is subject to Florida’s 10-20-Life law. On top of that, if you filed an insurance claim, you could also be charged with filing a false insurance claim and prosecuted for that as well.
To prove the crime of Criminal Mischief at trial, the prosecution must establish the following three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
- the defendant injured or damaged property (real or personal);
- the property injured or damaged by the defendant belonged to the alleged victim (identified by the prosecution);
- the injury or damage was done willfully and maliciously.
Fla. Std. Jury Instr. (Crim) 12.4
The term “willfully” means intentionally, knowingly, and purposely. “Maliciously” means wrongfully, intentionally, without legal justification or excuse, and with the knowledge that injury or damage may be caused to another person or the property of another person.
Offenses Against Computer Users
Florida Statute Section 815.06(2) prohibits a person from committing an offense against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks, or electronic devices if he or she willfully, knowingly, and without authorization:
- Accesses or causes to be accessed any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device with knowledge that such access is unauthorized;
- Disrupts or denies or causes the denial of the ability to transmit data to or from an authorized user of a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device, which, in whole or in part, is owned by, under contract to, or operated for, on behalf of, or in conjunction with another
- Destroys, takes, injures, or damages equipment or supplies used or intended to be used in a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device;
- Destroys, injures, or damages any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device;
- Introduces any computer contaminant into any computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device; or
- Engages in audio or video surveillance of an individual by accessing any inherent feature or component of a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device, including accessing the data or information of a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device that is stored by a third party.
The offense can be charged as a felony of the first degree if the violation:
- Endangers human life; or
- Disrupts a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device that affects medical equipment used in the direct administration of medical care or treatment to a person.
Under section four, a person can be charged with a misdemeanor in the first degree if the person willfully, knowingly, and without authorization modifies equipment or supplies used or intended to be used in a computer, computer system, computer network, or electronic device.
Section seven list several exceptions to these computer crime provisions including an exception for any person who:
- Acts pursuant to a search warrant or to an exception to a search warrant authorized by law;
- Acts within the scope of his or her lawful employment; or
- Performs authorized security operations of a government or business.
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