Man Arrested For Arson In Orlando, Allegedly Set Fire To Historic Ice Cream Shop
According to a report from Click Orlando, an arrest has been made related to the tragic fire that happened at a historic ice cream shop in Orlando. Goff’s Drive-In—an ice cream shop that has been open for more than seven decades—was burned in May of 2022. A 58-year-old man named Alfred Jerome Kirkland has been arrested and charged with arson. In this blog post, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer explains what we know about the case and discusses arson charges in general.
Law Enforcement: Surveillance Footage and DNA Were Used to Identify the Perpetrator
In the aftermath of the fire at Goff’s Drive-In in Orlando, it became apparent that an arsonist was responsible for the blaze. Law enforcement officers obtained surveillance footage from multiple surrounding businesses that showed a man walking behind the ice cream shop immediately before the fire and then walking back out right before the building went ablaze. The man was not identifiable based solely on the surveillance footage.
A crime scene investigator from the Orlando Police Department (OPD) was purportedly able to determine from the underside of the fence where the assailant made his entrance and exit to the building. Using the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS)—the comprehensive DNA database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation—law enforcement states that they have matched the DNA with 58-year-old Alfred Jerome Kirkland. He has been arrested and charged with arson.
An Overview of Arson Charges in Florida
Arson is a very serious criminal offense. Indeed, it is one of the most severe types of property crimes. As fires can quickly spiral out of control, arson poses a threat to people, not just property. Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 806.01), arson occurs when a person “willfully and unlawfully” causes damage to a “structure”, whether occupied or unoccupied. Notably, the law defines structure very broadly. It includes not just buildings, but vessels, motor vehicles, and even portable property such as a tent.
A first degree arson offense is a felony that carries maximum penalties of up to 30 years in prison. A second degree arson offense is also a felony charge. It carries a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison. Of course, every accused person is presumed innocent of arson charges until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A number of different defenses can be raised in an arson case. Prosecutors must prove that the fire or explosion was “willful.” An unintentional fire is not arson unless it was done during the commission of a felony. Though, an unintentional fire may be charged as another criminal offense, such as criminal negligence.
Call Our Orlando, FL Criminal Defense Attorney
At The Baez Law Firm, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer has the skills and experience to defend arson charges. If you or your loved one was arrested and charged with arson, we can help. Contact us now to arrange your completely confidential consultation. From our Orlando law office, our criminal defense lawyer handles arson charges in Orange County and throughout Central Florida.