Arson - Why Your Criminal Defense Attorney Matters


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Arson cases can either be charged in federal or state court. In Minnesota, the most common arson charge is arson in the first degree, which charges that the person intentionally set fire to his home or other dwelling, usually for the insurance money or some other financial reason. This is a serious charge that, if convicted, will likely result in at least a 4-year prison sentence. If you or a family member is facing charges of arson, you need an attorney experienced in handling arson cases.

Experience and knowledge of arson matters. The government and insurance companies have fire origin and cause experts working for them to convict people. Insurance companies may look for reasons to deny homeowners claims. Oftentimes, the government will have a report by a state fire marshal or insurance company fire origin and cause expert stating that the fire was intentionally set because of the fire patterns and the detection of the presence of ignitable liquids. Ignitable liquids are liquids—such as gasoline—that when ignited by an ignition source—such as a match—will ignite a structure on fire. If you or a loved one are facing this type of evidence, you need an experienced attorney who knows the science of fire origin and cause in order to challenge the State’s evidence, and who has taken the government on in these cases and won.

In April of 2014, Minneapolis arson attorney Robert Sicoli won an acquittal for a client wrongly accused of setting fire to his house in Becker County, Minnesota. The State had two experts testify that the fire was intentionally set, and also had a chemist from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testify that there was a substance that was consistent with ignitable liquid residue found at the scene. Bob Sicoli, through his cross-examination of the State’s experts, destroyed the State’s case. Mr. Sicoli showed that the State Fire Marshall had not only jumped to unproven conclusions, but had not followed proper scientific methods in his investigation. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty in less than two hours. After the verdict, one of the jurors told Mr. Sicoli he knew the science better than the State’s experts. This juror also commented that the expert Mr. Sicoli called to testify on his client’s behalf was very credible, unlike the State’s experts.

If you or a family member is charged with the serious crime of arson, you need the proven results of an experienced arson attorney who has the knowledge and the resources, specific to arson cases, to take on the government.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Sicoli, Sicoli Law, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Robert Sicoli is a MSBA Certified Criminal Law Specialist who has over 28 years of experience practicing exclusively in criminal defense in state and federal cases. Sicoli Law delivers personal, high quality, and experienced representation to give every client the best defense possible.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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