Arson in Florida: The Circumstances Matter

People may set fires in Florida. Some burn their own homes to cash in on the insurance policy. Others set fires to kill or harm others. And simply want to see the world burn. But when it comes to arson in Florida, the circumstances behind the crime matter. Depending on why or how you set the fire and who was harmed, you may face a wide range of different penalties.

Burning to Defraud an Insurer

One of the most common types of arson these days involves defrauding insurers. The logic is simple: Burn your property down, make it look like an accident, and then collect on your insurance policy. However, both authorities and insurers are very familiar with this tactic — and you may face very strict penalties for attempting this risky strategy. In Florida, burning to defraud an insurer is a third-degree felony that may put you in prison for up to five years.

Arson in the 1st Degree

Arson in 1st degree is the most serious type of arson in the state of Florida. This typically involves burning down someone’s home with people still inside, and it may result in up to 30 years of prison time.

On February 17th of 2023, a home in Miami Gardens went up in flames, and the owner claims the blaze was intentional. Surveillance cameras showed a person running away from the scene before getting on a bike and speeding away. Still, the authorities did not draw any hasty conclusions — and the exact cause of the fire remains to be investigated.

Ten days later, another fire broke out in the Miami area, causing a home to go up in smoke. Multiple explosions were reported, most likely caused by vehicle gas tanks and propane tanks in the back yard. The fire ruined an ice cream truck business that was the family’s only source of income. Authorities immediately labeled the incident as “suspicious,” stating that arson was a real possibility.

Arson to Collect Debt

Arson to collect debt is also a very serious offense in Florida, and this involves setting fires to intimidate people into paying their outstanding balances. As you might expect, this is heavily associated with gang activity and organized crime. One of the most notable people who has faced these charges is Joseph LaForte, the same person who once ran one of the nation’s largest cash advance companies. Recently, he was arrested after organizing an attack on a lawyer who was pushing for his eviction because of unpaid debts.

Where Can I Find a Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida?

If you’ve been searching for a Largo criminal defense attorney, look no further than Trevena Pontrello & Associates. Over the years, we have helped numerous defendants in the Sunshine State. We know that arson charges can be incredibly daunting — but you’re not in this battle alone. With our help, you can push back against needlessly excessive penalties and fight for your rights with confidence. Book your consultation today to get started with an effective action plan.


  1. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/lawyer-seeking-millions-from-cash-advance-firm-s-boss-is-beaten-with-flashlight-1.1891857#:~:text=(Bloomberg)%20%2D%2D%20A%20lawyer%20attempting,a%20flashlight%2C%20the%20FBI%20said.
  2. https://www.nbcmiami.com/news/local/owner-suspects-arson-after-massive-fire-engulfs-miami-gardens-home/2976142/
  3. https://wsvn.com/news/local/miami-dade/fire-engulfs-business-car-damages-home-in-nw-miami-dade-arson-investigation-opened/


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