Articles Posted in Arson

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Sunrise, Florida man, Khemraj Samlall told law enforcement he was only joking when he allegedly attempted to ignite gasoline that he “accidentally” spilled on his wife and her bed earlier this week. As a result of this claimed joke, Mr. Samlall is now facing felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill. According to reports Mr. Samlall and his wife were arguing after Mr. Samlall came home drunk. Mrs. Samlall is thought to have told him he was a bad father for not spending enough time with his children, prompting Mr. Samlall to retrieve a red gas can from outside in order to dump the gasoline contents on his wife and her bed. Mr. Samlall claims his actions were nothing more than a joke and his attempt to convince her to leave him alone and in the process he accidentally spilled gasoline on her and her bed. He further claims that his attempt to light the gasoline with a lighter was merely a joke, without an intent to do any harm. As so often is the case with an allegation of domestic violence, after initially telling police that she feared her husband, Mrs. Samlall retracted her statement, telling a Judge that Mr. Samlall is a great guy and a good father to their children.

Hmm… Evidently they joke a little differently in south Florida. That said, I get it. Nagging wife, guy gets a little soused up at the bar with his rough riding buddy after watching his team get dominated by a lesser opponent. Times are tough and you come home and are met at the door by the Angry Bird that explodes upon impact. Mrs. Samlall was running hot when Khemraj rolled in. Tale as old as time. We’ve all been there. That said, I’m still not sure the old “dump an accelerant on her and watch her squirm as I strike a lighter” joke was totally appropriate. The knives may have taken it a bit too far as well. Get better Khemraj!!!

In all seriousness, the defense of “just kidding” probably isn’t going to cut it in this situation. Aside from the fact that this could have obviously killed his wife and burned his home to the ground, Mr. Samlall now faces extremely serious charges. Aggravated Assault is codified at Florida Statute 784.021 and is really nothing more than an upgraded assault. Defined, an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon charge in Florida is an intentional, unlawful threat by word or act to do violence to the person of another, coupled with an apparent ability to do so, and doing some act which creates a well-founded fear in such other person that such violence is imminent all while having in their possession a deadly weapon. In this case, where there is no firearm present Mr. Samlall will avoid a minimum mandatory sentence but does face the prospect of prison time, as his charge is a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
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If you’ve previously read our blog, you’ll know that it is an effort to provide an interesting read on funny or hot button topics from the perspective of a Tampa criminal lawyer. Our hope is that we can bring some knowledge on the law while also giving a perspective of how a case is viewed from our side of the fence. Today I’ll break from that trend as there is nothing funny about the acts of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother. These individuals robbed our Country and one of our finest cities of a sense of security while taking with that the lives and quality of life of innocent bystanders supporting something so pure as the challenge of the Boston Marathon. Those of us that practice Federal criminal law stand before our Judges every month in an effort to introduce them to an individual as opposed to a case number. We squeeze every bit of good in a person onto a sentencing memorandum in the hope that we can shave off a fraction of the person’s sentence. As a general rule, within each of our clients there is some good and it can be argued that though the individual may be before a particular judge on a particular day, the act for which they are there is not the sum total of who the person is. With the freshness of this massacre as it currently stands, it would be tough to make that argument here. Some will demand Tsarnaev’s head on a stake, some will beg for mercy due to his age. Both are entitled to their opinion. This great country and its resolve is to thank for the ability to own your opinion.

As it stands on the date of this blog, Tsarnaev has been charged by criminal complaint in Federal Court. Rest assured a Grand Jury will be empaneled on this case and they will provide an indictment and this case will move forward based on that. As for now, Tsarnaev is charged via complaint with “Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction” under 18 USC 2332(a) and “Malicious Destruction of Property Resulting in Death” under 18 USC 844(i). Someone died as a result of the deeds of these brothers. As with any Federal Case one of the first steps in sentence calculation is to take a look at the Federal Guidelines to get a rough idea as to where the potential sentence may stand. Going in order, the charge of “Use of a Weapon of Mass Destruction” is most likely to be guided under Federal Guideline 2M6.1. Immediately because a little boy died, this guideline could call for a cross reference with Guideline 2A1.1 for first degree murder as the death was most definitely caused intentionally or knowingly. The base offense level for that, regardless of criminal history is 43, which equates to life. However, under 2M6.1(c)(1) because a higher offense level could be built using 2M6.1 by taking the base offense level of 42 and adding 4 levels for death, the first degree murder cross reference doesn’t happen. Generically, for Tsarnaev’s use of a weapon of mass destruction, he’s looking at a potential total offense level of 46 which would equate to life. As for the “Malicious Destruction of Property Resulting in Death” the applicable guideline is 2K1.4. Again there calls for a first degree murder cross reference under 2A1.1, this time applicable as that guideline is higher at 43.
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Local Tampa man, Cort Allenbrand has been arrested on arson charges after authorities allege that he set his girlfriend’s house on fire in Seffner, Florida early Wednesday morning. Hillsborough County Fire and Rescue authorities claim Cort Allenbrand went to his ex-girlfriend’s home early this morning with fire accelerant and lit a fire near the back of the residence. Before the fire could engulf the house and cause major damage a nearby neighbor was able to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher. Police say Allenbrand was able to flee the scene but was arrested a few hours later at 3:30AM and booked into the Hillsborough County Jail. As it stands now, police are recommending to the State Attorney’s Office that he be charged with the first degree felony version of arson due to the subject matter of the arson being considered a dwelling. In Florida, arson of a dwelling is a first degree felony regardless of whether it is occupied.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say Allenbrand or whoever started this fire had an axe to grind in some way, shape, or form against his ex-girlfriend or her mother. In my experience as a Tampa criminal attorney, arson is a crime committed by a kid, is committed by someone trying to cover something up, or as I believe in this case, is committed by someone who is angry with someone else. What most arsonists don’t take into consideration is just how seriously Florida police agencies and State Attorney’s Offices take an allegation of arson.

Arson is codified under Florida Statute 806.01. Defined, arson occurs when one willfully and unlawfully, or while in the commission of any felony, by fire or explosion, damages or causes to be damaged any dwelling occupied or not, or its contents or any structure or its contents, where people are normally present. Examples of places covered under this Statute could be: jails, prisons, or detention centers; hospitals, nursing homes, or other health care facilities; department stores, office buildings, business establishments, churches, or educational institutions during normal hours of occupancy; or other similar structures; or any other structure that the individual knew or had reasonable grounds to believe was occupied by a someone. Complete this magic circle of fun and you’ll be staring down the barrel of first degree felony, first degree arson punishable by up to 30 years in the Florida Department of Corrections and a $10,000 fine.
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