Peter Odom
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Atlanta arson Defense Lawyer

At common law, arson was defined as the intentional burning of the dwelling house of another. Modern arson statutes have expanded this definition to include the include burning or exploding of any structure. Modern statutes also criminalize the burning of one’s own property, as this is a common form of insurance fraud.

To qualify as arson, however, the burned or exploded property must be more than just set on fire: it must be damaged; discoloration by fire or explosion would not constitute arson.

Georgia law provides for three types of arson: first, second, and third degree.

First Degree Arson: O.C.G.A. 16-7-60 (1-20 year penalty) – A person commits arson in the first degree when he damages by fire or explosion

  • The dwelling of another whether occupied or vacant; or
  • Any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft or other structure designed for use as a structure;
  • Without the consent of the insurer and insured, any occupied or unoccupied structure that is insured against loss;
  • Any structure with the intent to defeat the rights of a spouse or co-owner; or
  • Any structure where it is reasonably foreseeable that human life may be endangered.

Second Degree Arson: O.C.G.A. 16-7-61 (1-10)  – Prohibits the damaging of any building, vehicle, railroad car, watercraft, aircraft, or any other structure by means of fire or explosive during the commission of a felony.

Third Degree O.C.G.A. 16-7-62 (1-5) – prohibits the damaging by fire or explosion the personal property of another valued at $25.00 or more.

In court, arson cases tend to rely heavily on the testimony of fire investigators, whose job is to determine the cause and origin of fires. Fire investigators are remarkably accurate in distinguishing accidental fires from those that are deliberately set.

If you are charged with arson, you need to have a trained and experienced criminal attorney on your side to guide you through the many scientific and legal complexities involved in such a case.

Peter Odom has been practicing criminal law for over twenty years. Clients rely on his experience and expertise every day in criminal matters throughout the Atlanta Metropolitan area. If you have been charged with a serious crime like arson, do not try to go it alone: Call The Odom Law Firm. Your initial consultation costs you nothing. 


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