Facing Arson Charges in New York?

Seeking Immediate Counsel from a State Defense Lawyer is Imperative

The earlier you receive expert counsel, the more likely your matter will end favorably. If you’re facing prosecution, contact us immediately.

Arson Charges in New York

New York Penal Law 150.00 covers the crime of Arson. This offense is known as the act of starting a fire and causing the subsequent damage to a building or property. Section §150.00 defines a “building” beyond its usual meaning as any “structure, vehicle, vehicle or watercraft used for overnight lodging of persons, or used by persons for carrying on business therein.”

The crime of arson in New York requires that an individual act with intent or willfulness - therefore, a merely reckless or negligent act in and of itself will not qualify. 

There are five degrees of this crime. Which degree will apply will depend on:

  • The intent of the defendant;
  • The materials used to set the fire;
  • Whether human life was in danger;
  • Whether anyone was actually injured.

In New York, arson involves setting fire to property intentionally. Often, arson results in damage to residential or commercial buildings, as well as to public property. To establish intent, a prosecutor may try to show that a defendant set a fire to collect on an insurance policy, exact revenge against an enemy, or destroy evidence. Note that it is the act of starting the fire or explosion that must be intentional, not necessarily all the damage that results. Due to a fire’s volatile nature and the potential for people to be injured or die, arson is typically classified as a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Within this realm, arson in the first degree carries elements concerning financial gain or knowing that serious physical injury or death would occur due to another person’s presence. Arson in the second, third, or fourth degree may also be charged depending on the level of damages, if any individuals were harmed, and if the defendant harbored malicious intent or acted recklessly in his commission of the crime. Arson in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor, only requires that some damage occur.

Possible Sentencing & Penalties in New York

If the government charges you with intentionally setting a fire, whether to collect on insurance or for another motive, the penalties may be severe. Arson is one of the most serious and complex charges in the state, and these accusations must be met head on with a relentless defense.

The specific degree of arson will make all the difference when it comes to your potential sentencing. A misdemeanor arson can carry up to one year in jail, while certain felony level charges may carry over a decade in prison if convicted.

More specifically, all other degrees outside of fifth are considered felonies. Arson in the second degree and first degree are considered violent felonies, and carry even harsher punishments. Arson in the first degree is the most serious offense, and is considered a violent A-1 felony. This offense carries a minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 25 years to life. 

How We Fight Arson Charges in New York

The following are common defenses to charges of arson:

  • Other Causes: Due to electrical, gas, and heating issues, it is possible that the fire was started by natural means, and not with malicious intent.
  • Lack of Proof of Intent: The government, in its efforts to file the highest degree of charges, will try to first show that an individual acted with intent, while a strategic defense may be able to support that the fire resulted from accident, recklessness, or negligence. An affirmative defense may also arise if the fire was set for a lawful, proper purpose, such as demolition.
  • Insufficient Evidence: In many cases, evidence is lacking after a fire. Your lawyer may try to prove that there simply is not enough conclusive evidence to charge you. Arson is often proved by forensic evidence, such as traces of the inflammable or explosive material and of the method of ignition. These proofs, as well as evidence of the identity of the defendant, are subject to challenge.

At the Law Offices of Jason Goldman, our attorneys consider the above defenses and amplify them by pursuing counter-investigations and hiring arson experts. We look at the interplay between defenses and, as always, give consideration to the government’s case in determining whether or not to take a case to trial. 

Your Defense Begins Now

If you are being prosecuted for arson, hire a former prosecutor and seasoned defense attorney who can and will find creative solutions to counter these complex charges. Being charged with arson is only one small piece of the puzzle. What your defense attorney does afterwards, by way of investigation and consulting with experts, will shape your future and increase your chances of successfully fighting these accusations.

The sooner you put the case in the hands of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the more opportunity you will have to work toward a favorable outcome. Contact The Law Offices of Jason Goldman today.

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