Burning to Defraud an Insurer - Florida Statute 817.233
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The “Great Recession” of 2008 caused a drop in employment. Many people lost their jobs. During the previous years leading up to the recession, many people had bought houses they really could not afford. Mortgage companies were lending money to people under deceptive contracts with interest rates that would change in a couple of years. As people lost their jobs, their mortgage payments were still coming in every month. Some of those mortgage payments changed to higher interest rates because the homeowners did not get fixed rate mortgages. This caused people to start thinking about solving their problems. Some declared bankruptcy while others set fire to their houses. There are many reasons why a person might set fire to a house such as: the homeowner trying to wipe out the mortgage debt that is on the house, the homeowner trying to get insurance money for an unsellable house, or the homeowner wanting to receive an insurance payout that is greater than the current value of the house.
Committing this crime is a really bad idea because law enforcement and insurance companies have well trained investigators who can detect how fires start. Many people think that when they set fire to the house, the fire and the building collapsing will hide any evidence of arson. What they do not know is insurance companies have whole departments devoted to fire investigation. They study how fires start and spread and they have sophisticated laboratory tests they can perform to know more about the fire.What the State Prosecutor Has to Prove to Convict You of Burning to Defraud an Insurer
The state prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
(1) You either:
(2) The property belonged to you;
- Burned property;
- Attempted burning the property;
- Attempted to set on fire the property;
- Caused the burning of the property;
- Set on fire the property; or
- Aided, advised, or hired the burning of the property;
(3) The property was insured against loss or damage; and
(4) You willfully and with a fully-formed conscious intent on injuring or defrauding the insurer.
When a person commits defrauding an insurer, they also likely commit the crime of arson. This means that the person can be charged and convicted for defrauding an insurer and arson. Arson is subject to Florida’s 10-20-Life law. On top of that, if you filed an insurance claim, you could also be charged with filing a false insurance claim and prosecuted for that as well.Punishment
This crime is a third-degree felony that is punishable up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.Contact The Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.
Defrauding an insurer will be aggressively prosecuted. Florida law enforcement and the insurance companies have experts that investigate fires. You will want experienced and aggressive Delray Beach Burning Attorneys to help defend your case. Our law firm focuses on criminal matters in the South Florida area.
Call us today so we can schedule an appointment to meet with you. Our Delray Beach Attorney want to hear your version of the events so we can then develop a defense strategy for your case. Our attorneys will try and persuade the prosecutor to not move forward with your case. If the prosecutor wants to move forward, we can take your case all the way through trial. Call today so we can start helping you find the best resolution possible.