Man Charged With Arson After Setting Car Ablaze

A Hobe Sound man was arrested after police say that he set a car on fire in the parking lot of a shopping center. He has since been charged with criminal mischief and arson.

Police say that 37-year-old Andrew Piasecki targeted the car of someone he knew in the Garden Square shopping center. Piasecki’s bail has been set at $54,000. Authorities arrived just before 2 p.m. and found a fire in the rear parking area. The 2011 Ford Escape was parked between two other vehicles.

The owner of the vehicle is an employee of the shopping center and wasn’t sure what was happening until they heard sirens. According to the owner, they received threats from Piasecki earlier that day. One of the texts apparently said: “Say goodbye to your car.”

Further complicating matters for Piasecki, a surveillance video shows him carrying a red gas can to the parking lot and carrying it toward where the car was parked.

Not a Good Look for This Defendant

This defendant will have a difficult time mounting a reasonable defense. Text messages show that he threatened the worker prior to the incident and video surveillance puts him at the scene with a gas can in his hands.

Piasecki’s best play is to try to plead the arson charge down. The problem there is that Florida’s arson statute specifically lists vehicles as a type of property that qualifies as arson. Technically, anything with a roof over it can be considered arson. Any place where a defendant has a reasonable expectation that people will be inside of it constitutes arson. Tents and boats would also qualify under this statute.

On the one hand, vehicles are specifically listed as qualifying for arson. On the other hand, the defendant appears to have known that there was no one in the car at the time he set it on fire. Is that enough to get the charges reduced to criminal mischief?

The state’s case against the defendant is solid. But the question is: How hard do they want to pursue it? Prosecutors may be willing to plead the crime down if Piasecki has no prior record, a good job, and is in good standing otherwise. However, it seems unlikely that a man who was willing to set another person’s car on fire is in a healthy place in their life.

On the other hand, a defense attorney may choose to argue that their client has been under intense emotional strain and that led to their outrageous behavior. It depends entirely on Piasecki and his willingness to seek counseling or treatment for his anger-management issues.

Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve set someone’s car on fire in a fit of rage, then you need an attorney who can frame the situation in a sympathetic way and hopefully negotiate a reasonable plea deal. Call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm, P.A. today for more information on how we can help.


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