What is arson – first degree?

The crime of Arson in the First Degree is a First Degree Felony in Florida and is punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 30 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.

This offense occurs when a person:

Willfully uses fire or explosion to damage

  • Any dwelling
  • Any structure that is normally occupied
  • Any other structure that the offender had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied by a human being

Some Defenses to Arson – First Degree are:

  • Structure was not normally occupied – charge should be 2nd Degree Arson.  [1, 3]
    • An abandoned building or other building that one may have reason to believe is not normally occupied should be a 2nd Degree Arson charge. 
  • Lack of Intent to Damage the Property of Others [2]
    • Lack of Intent means an accidental fire is not 2nd Degree Arson. 
  • Insufficient Evidence and Circumstantial Evidence. [2]


  1.  Stevens v. State, 226 So. 3d 787 (Fla. 2017)
  2. Moberly v. State, 562 So. 2d 773 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1990).
  3. Neilson v. State, 713 So. 2d 1110 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1998). 

Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Glenn M. Swiatek for a Free Initial Consultation in Destin, Shalimar, Crestview, Ft. Walton Beach and other areas of Northwest Florida

If you have been arrested or believe you will soon be arrested for the offense of arson – first degree in Destin, Shalimar, Crestview, Ft. Walton Beach or other areas of Northwest Florida please call us today at (850) 609‑0940 or contact us online.

Initial Office Consults are free, and I will make myself available to suit your schedule. Get the peace of mind that an attorney with over twenty-three years of criminal law experience can bring.