A 39-year-old man has been charged with setting fire to a Fort Lauderdale apartment building as a result of an alleged dispute with his landlord. The incident that led to the man’s arrest involved an improvised incendiary device that he allegedly threw onto the rooftop of a multi-family apartment building on Middle River Drive at about 2:30 a.m. The man remains in custody without bond on charges that include arson. The Middle River Drive complex consists of eight units. Although there were no injuries, Judge Michael Davis was told by a prosecutor and detective that matters could have turned out far different. The defendant is suspected of having started six other fires on properties owned by his landlord throughout the Fort Lauderdale Area.
According to Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer Kenneth Hassett, a person can be charged with first degree arson if the prosecution believes that he or she willfully damaged any of the following by fire or explosion:
- A dwelling, regardless of whether it was occupied
- A structure where people are ordinarily present
- Any other structure when there are reasonable grounds to believe it is occupied
First degree arson in Florida is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $30,000. Florida also has a second degree arson statute that’s punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The distinguishing factor in Florida between first degree arson and second degree arson is whether the structure that was damaged was a residence.
Kenneth Hassett is a Fort Lauderdale arson defense lawyer who also maintains offices in Davie and Miami. Given the extended possible sentences for either first or second degree arson, you’ll serve yourself or your family member well by retaining the services of an experienced arson defense attorney like Kenneth Hassett. Invoke and protect your rights by contacting Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer Kenneth Hassett right away after any arrest for a free consultation. He has dedicated his career to representing those who have been criminally accused.