Illinois Residential Arson

The Law – 720 ILCS 5/20-1

A person commits residential arson when, by fire or explosion, the person knowingly damages – totally or partially – a building or structure that is the dwelling place of another.

There are many issues that are involved with a charge of residential arson, and it is not nearly as “cut and dry” as it seems. The State has the burden of proving every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes that the act was done “knowingly” as well as whether a structure was actually a “dwelling place”, as well as other essential elements of the offense.

The Sentence

CLASS 1 FELONY – 4-15 years prison

Probation Possible? – No.

Time To Be Served – Must serve 50% of the sentence imposed

Success Story: We were retained to represent a client who was charged with arson by setting a fire in the mailbox attached to the front of a home. When we were retained, the client had already had previously had an attorney representing her, and her prior attorney had tried to negotiate a plea bargain, and had received an offer of three years in prison if the client would plead guilty to arson. When we got into the case, we discussed the case with the State’s Attorney, who advised us that there was “no chance, whatsoever” that the offer of three years would be reduced. We then proceeded to review the police reports and statements extensively, and look at other Illinois cases that had been decided by the Illinois Court of Appeals and the Illinois Supreme Court regarding arson, (and eliminated that charge of residential arson) and issues we thought we could raise. In the end, we were able to obtain an offer from the State’s Attorney of a sentence of probation, without jail time, based upon our arguments and what we had discovered.

When you need a criminal defense attorney, you should hire a lawyer who is experienced, aggressive, and will do the work it takes to get the best result for you. We leave no stone unturned in our effort to do the best job we can for a client, and get the best result possible. We are experienced, aggressive, knowledgeable, and detail-oriented criminal defense attorneys We represent clients in Orland Park, Tinley Park, Joliet, Lockport, Homer Glen, New Lenox, Oak Forest, Plainfield, Romeoville, and all other cities in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.

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James A. Payonk, Jr.

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Orland Park, Illinois 60467

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