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Can Setting Off Fireworks Lead to an Arson Charge in Houston?

With Independence Day fast approaching, many people are buying fireworks to create a light show in celebration. However, fireworks are very dangerous, and inexperienced people can cause injury and other damage if they don’t use them properly.

In fact, under Texas law, you might be charged with arson if you end up burning or damaging a building with your fireworks. If bystanders suffer bodily injury, then the criminal charges instantly become some of the most serious you will face. You will need a Houston criminal defense attorney in your corner to fight for your freedom.

Students Charged with Arson in School

Two Houston-area high school students recently gained notoriety when they were arrested for setting off fireworks inside the cafeteria at Klein Forest High School. The two students got hit with arson charges because they intentionally set the fireworks off inside the school.

Unfortunately for the students, the fireworks did more than startle everyone. They directly injured some students, while other students were injured when they tried to flee. Because the students were juveniles, their names were not released. Anyone 18 or older would likely face felony charges for setting off these items in a city building.

Reckless Conduct Can Lead to Charges

Even if you don’t do something as foolish as set off fireworks inside a school, you could still face criminal charges for mishandling them. Texas Penal Code Section 28.02 is our arson statute. It criminalizes starting a fire or causing an explosion with intent to damage or destroy. It applies to starting fires or explosions with the intent to damage any building or vehicle within an incorporated city or town.

In fact, our arson law is not limited to intentional conduct. You can also face arson charges if you intentionally set off fireworks and recklessly damaged a building. For example, you might have ignored a high probability that your fireworks would land on a nearby building. That’s enough for an arson charge.

Most arson charges are second-degree felonies, which can net you up to 20 years in prison. However, if someone suffered bodily injury or death, you could face first-degree charges.

Those who cause damage recklessly are facing lesser charges—a state jail felony. Still, this offense can land you in prison for a maximum of two years.

Criminal Charges for Fireworks

Few people will set off fireworks in Houston with the intent of damaging a building or vehicle. They certainly won’t go into a school to set them off, which we can chalk up to teenage misjudgment. Nevertheless, if you set off fireworks and cause damage, you can end up in jail. This is true even if you have a permit to set them off.

Although the permit is a defense to causing an explosion within city limits, it doesn’t relieve you of responsibility to act carefully. You could still be charged if your fireworks go astray and cause damage or harm.

Contact Our Houston Criminal Defense Attorney

Tad Nelson wishes everyone a safe Fourth of July. If you end up accidentally hurting someone, please call our law firm today at (713) 802-1631.