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Defending Yourself Against Arson for Insurance Fraud

House on fire image
July 11, 2020 | Written by Dan Margolis

A fire destroys your business, home, or other property. You file an insurance claim and await your check for the damage. But something goes wrong. Instead of settling, the insurance company launches an arson investigation. Now you need experienced Cleveland arson attorney Daniel M. Margolis.

Accusations of arson for insurance fraud purposes are serious. The intersection of arson and insurance fraud occurs when law enforcement and or your insurer believes a fire was intentionally set. If you find yourself as a suspect after a fire, The Law Office of Daniel M. Margolis, LLC., can help. Contact us at (216) 533-9533 or use our online form to schedule a free, confidential consultation about your case.

Arson for Insurance Fraud Investigations

Arson investigations may start with the local fire department if the scene suggests the fire started in a suspicious manner. An arson investigator may even be called in to work the case, such as those in the Cleveland arson unit. Depending on the circumstances, the State Fire Marshal’s office or even the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives could assign an arson investigator to a case.

Sometimes, however, it is the insurance company that kicks off an investigation based on the timing and amount of a policy in relation to the fire. Large policies purchased near a total fire loss can get scrutiny. Also, recent increases in policy limits are a common red flag. Your finances, too, will be examined to determine if you possibly had motive to burn your property for the insurance money.

Per state law, it is illegal to damage someone’s property or your own using fire or explosion for the purposes of insurance fraud. This type of criminal activity is known as “hard fraud.” Submitting a fraudulent insurance claim valued over $1,000 is a felony in Ohio. Conviction of arson for insurance fraud could result in several years in prison and thousands in fines. Those convicted of crimes involving arson committed since 2012 must also register with the sheriff in their county of residence. Sentencing for arson may include the defendant having to pay for the cost of the fire department putting the fire out and any subsequent investigation.

Because of the seriousness of these charges, time is of the essence and you need an arson for insurance fraud lawyer as soon as possible. Collateral consequences, in addition to prison, fines, and registering as an arsonist, include: a permanent criminal record that could prevent you from holding certain jobs, obtaining professional licenses, joining the military, or attending college.

Arson for Insurance Fraud Defenses

Proving arson is often difficult because evidence is often destroyed at the scene. However, a skilled, experienced investigator can often recover enough evidence to put a solid case together. Investigations are highly technical and to be valid must comply with national standards. Furthermore, cases are often built on circumstantial evidence based on the timing and amount of insurance policies, or the financial health of the insured. Accordingly, there is a lot a skilled defense attorney can do for you.

Some defenses include:

  • Alternative theories for how the fire started
  • Lack of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Consent to cause the fire
  • Mistaken identity
  • Lack of motive

Suspected of Arson for Insurance Fraud? We’re Here to Help

Most often a fire is just an accident. But when circumstances suggest a fire is suspicious, law enforcement and insurance companies may investigate whether it was arson for insurance fraud. You may hesitate to hire an attorney thinking that doing so looks like you’re guilty—when you are not. Don’t let such beliefs stop you from contacting The Law Office of Daniel M. Margolis, LLC today. Arson for insurance fraud is a serious legal matter and it pays to be proactive about your defense.

As a former firefighter who was a founding member of the Cuyahoga County’s arson prosecution unit, Attorney Margolis understands arson for insurance fraud cases and can help protect your rights with a vigorous defense. Call today at (216) 533-9533 or use our online form for a free, confidential consultation.

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