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Under A.R.S. § 13-1702, a person commits reckless burning by recklessly causing a fire or explosion which damages a structure, wildland or property.  Reckless burning is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail.


A.R.S. § 13-1703 defines arson of a structure or property as a person knowingly and unlawfully causing a fire or explosion which damages a structure or property.  Arson of a structure is a Class 4 felony punishable by 1 to 3.75 years in prison for a first time felony offense. Arson of property is a Class 4 felony if the property was valued at more than one thousand dollars. Arson of property is a Class 5 felony punishable by .5 to 2.5 years in prison for a first time felony offense if the property was valued at more than one hundred dollars but less than one thousand dollars. Arson of property is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in jail if the property was valued at one hundred dollars or less.

“Arson charges require a highly analytical defense—It’s right up my alley.”

  Lisa Witt

According to A,R.S. § 13-1704, a person commits arson of an occupied structure by knowingly and unlawfully damaging an occupied structure by knowingly causing a fire or explosion.  Arson of an occupied structure is a Class 2 felony punishable by 3 to 12.5 years in prison for a first time felony offense.


Other possible arson-related charges are arson of an occupied jail or prison facility, burning of wildlands, unlawful cross burning, and unlawful symbol burning.



If you are charged with arson or an arson-related offense, you need an excellent defense attorney.  Lisa will thoroughly evaluate your case and determine if one or more of the following potential defense strategies apply:


  • Conduct described is not arson:  The conduct described in the indictment may not fit the statutory definition of arson.


  • No intent to commit arson:   You may not have had any intent to commit arson. 


  • Eyewitnesses:  You may have eyewitnesses who can testify about what happened.


  • State’s witnesses are mistaken or lying about what happened.  Lisa knows of an arson case in Maricopa County that was dismissed because the State’s witnesses confessed during their pretrial interviews that they were meth heads who falsely accused defendant to obtain the reward money.

““False allegations happen more often than you think—I have a strategy to fight them.”

  Lisa Witt

  • Impossibility of State’s claim:  The State’s claim may be impossible based on the timeline or other evidence.


  • Mistaken identity:  Someone else committed the arson and you were mistakenly identified as the suspect.


  • Sentencing enhancements do not apply:  Sentencing enhancements such as dangerous nature of the offense, repetitive nature of the offense and/or crime committed while on probation or release do not necessarily apply just because the State claims that they do. 


  • Missing or tainted evidence:  Sometimes the State’s evidence is missing or tainted. 


  • Suppression of State’s evidence:  The State may have violated your constitutional rights or otherwise acted illegally in obtaining evidence or your confession so that the evidence is suppressed.


  • Insufficiency of State’s evidence:  The State may have insufficient evidence to prove arson beyond a reasonable doubt.


  • Reduction in number of counts: Each count of your indictment should concern a separate criminal act or victim and not be parts of the same arson. 


  • Police misconduct:  There may be police misconduct in investigating the arson charge, collecting the evidence, interviewing the victim and witnesses, or obtaining your confession.


  • Prosecutorial misconduct:  There may be prosecutorial misconduct in disclosing the evidence, interviewing victims and witnesses, and in the general course of your case.


  • State’s arson expert is incompetent or incorrect about his/her conclusion of arson:  The fire or explosion is not necessarily arson just because the State’s arson expert claims that it is.


  • Possible other defenses:  Depending on the unique facts of your case, there may be other possible defenses.  Lisa thinks outside the box when defending your case so she may come up with a novel defense that no other attorney has thought of before.


If you or a loved one is facing a charge of arson, it’s very important to hire a thorough and passionate defense attorney who will fight for you as soon as possible.  Call LisaLaw, LLC or fill out the on-line form for a free case review.

Lisa Witt is a Mesa/Phoenix, Arizona arson defense attorney serving clients facing charges in the East Valley, West Valley, Maricopa County, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Fountain Hills, Apache Junction, Gold Canyon, Queen Creek, Gilbert, Casa Grande, Surprise, Goodyear, Buckeye, Youngtown, Ahwatukee, Avondale, Tolleson.

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