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Burning to Defraud an Insurance Company

The motivation for some arson crimes are related to collecting proceeds from an insurance company. When a person willfully and with a fully-formed, conscious intent to injure or defraud the insurer of the property, burns a residential or commercial building, then the crime can be charged under Florida Statute Section 817.233.

Many of these criminal investigations involve a lie told about the cause of the fire or how the fire started. Insurance adjusters and investigators for the insurance company are particularly likely to make allegations that trigger a criminal investigation. In fact, for fire damage, many insurers have Special Investigation Units, or SIUs. The investigators conduct burn pattern analyses and computer simulations to determine if the fire was intentionally set or accidental.

Contact a criminal defense attorney at Sammis Law Firm to discuss charges for arson or related felony crimes under Florida law. These serious charges need a serious defense.

Attorney for Burning to Defraud an Insurance Company in Tampa, FL

If you were charged with burning a structure or building to defraud an insurer or insurance company then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. We are experienced in representing clients in serious felony cases including arson, criminal mischief and related property crimes.

Hiring an attorney as early in the process as possible to fight to protect your rights is your best defense against an unjust or overly aggressive prosecution for arson.

If you were accused of any type of insurance fraud in Tampa Bay area, including Tampa in Hillsborough County, then contact us to discuss your case.

Call (813) 250-0500.


Jury Instruction for Burning to Defraud an Insurer

The jury instructions for Burning to Defraud an Insurer or Insurance Company is contained in section 12.5. The jury instruction tracks the statutory language in Florida Statute § 817.233.

In order to prove the crime of Burning to Defraud an Insurer or Insurance Company, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s office must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt at trial:

  1. The Defendant set fire to a building, structure, or personal property as alleged in the charging document (in the alternative, this element can allege that the defendant aided, counseled, or procured the burning of, actually burned, attempted to set fire to, attempted to burn, or caused to be burned the building, structure, or personal property.)
  2. The property belonged to the person alleged.
  3. The property was insured against loss or damage by fire.
  4. The defendant (Defendant) acted willfully and with a fully-formed, conscious intent to injure or defraud the insurer of the property.

The term “willfully” means intentionally, knowingly, and purposely.


This article was last updated on Monday, December 31, 2018.