Arson is a serious crime in Louisiana that can carry a substantial prison sentence. The seriousness of the punishment is distinguished by the level of damages that are caused. If the damages are less than $500, the punishment carries a fine and a sentence of imprisonment up to five years without hard labor. If the damage is more than $500, the fine can be much higher and sentence of imprisonment can reach as high as 15 years with or without hard labor. Presenting a criminal defense to a charge of arson requires strong representation by a defense attorney as soon as practically possible.
Sometimes arson crosses paths with domestic violence crimes. Domestic disputes occasionally result in a person in the relationship setting fire to the mutual residence. Authorities in Avoyelles Parish recently arrested a 27-year-old male for simple arson, domestic abuse battery and criminal property damage. Arson requires proof of specific criminal intent by the accused.
Police say that the man attacked the complainant, his live-in girlfriend, on Sept. 30 as she tried to leave their mobile home. The man physically restrained the woman and damaged property during the argument, according to police. The argument drifted outside but the accused allegedly went back into the home. According to the victim, the smoke detectors started going off shortly after the accused went back inside the mobile home.
The accused reportedly denied starting the fire, causing property damage or harming the victim. This means that the accused may raise the defense of innocence under Louisiana law; it does not appear that there are any eyewitnesses to who set the fire and damaged the property. If the accused is guilty, however, he may do much better by having his criminal defense counsel negotiate a plea bargain. If it is a first offense, some of the charges may be dropped and the negotiated sentence may be for probation without imprisonment.