A West side Chicago church went up in flames this past week and a member of the church is accused of starting the blaze. Sixty-one year old James Deichman is charged with arson and is being held on $1 million bond.
According to the Sun-Times, the fire was initially reported by Jefferson Park District Sergeant James Baul who happened to see a trash can in the alley ablaze. Upon a closer look, Baul found a broken out window and saw fire within the sanctuary. Once inside officials found Deichman sitting on some stairs.
At the scene Deichman apparently alluded to his responsibility for the fire and was described as being “manic”. He allegedly said he set the fire “because it was more economical.” The Sun-Times report states that church members had been concerned about Deichman in recent days and had even scheduled an intervention.
The fire consisted of a point of origin behind the church in an alley and within the church where firefighters found piles of items ablaze. It was a 3 alarm fire that required the work of 130 firefighters. The church is said to have been “heavily damaged”.
Arson is recognized as perhaps the most serious of all property crimes. The potential for casualties and serious loss of value may have something to do with why it is considered such a horrendous act under the law. The fact that this arson involved a place of worship only makes it worse for the defendant.
Although the Sun-Times report doesn’t clarify, Deichman is likely charged with aggravated arson, the most serious of arson charges. This offense is considered a Class X felony and carries a potential 30 year prison sentence.
While arson is the most serious of all property crimes, it is nowhere near as common as Criminal Damage of Property. We see this charge often in the Illinois criminal court system. It applies when you are accused of damaging the property of another without their consent.
Whether you are facing criminal damage or arson, your future is on the line. Contact me today for a consultation on your case and some free legal advice.