Arson is the crime when someone intentionally burns down or explodes a place where someone else lives, and that also applies to places such as public buildings and commercial spaces too. Along with this, there are quite a few states that also add the stipulation that if you’ve burnt down a building to defraud an insurance company, then you’ve still committed arson. Of course, an intent element is required in order to be convicted of arson, so if you’ve been charged with this crime it’s definitely in your best interest to seek out the right legal counsel for your case.


Arson is typically thought of by the average person as the crime of starting a fire and then damaging a building a building as a result, or even buildings in the surrounding area, and maybe even injuring someone who was in one of the buildings, or someone outside. Beyond an actual physical building, this definition has also been extended to things like watercraft, vehicles, and really any other kind of structure that can be used either as a home or as a place of business.


What are the penalties for arson?


One thing that complicates matters a bit is that arson is actually charged as five separate degrees in the state of New York, and the least of the charges, which is arson in the fifth degree, can potentially involve jail time as a consequence. Arson is considered to be a particularly serious charge no matter what the circumstances are, so it’s vitally important that you don’t take your case into your own hands and instead hire an experienced defense attorney, someone with experience in arson cases, to take over your case.


The good news in all of this is that the prosecution has to prove that there was in fact a fire that occurred, and that there was either a criminal or reckless element that led to the fire happening. Motive isn’t necessary to be proven, just the element of recklessness that we mentioned.


When it comes to the state of New York, arson in the fifth degree is when you have intentionally caused some kind of damage to someone else’s property, either by setting a fire or starting an explosion. This charge is a Class A misdemeanor and could land you up to a year in jail.


When it comes to arson in the fourth degree, this is when someone damages some kind of structure by either starting a fire or an explosion. The difference with this charge is that you didn’t necessarily have to know that your actions would lead to the structure being burned, just that the things you were doing could potentially lead to the building being damaged or destroyed. For instance, this could happen if you set fire to something that was nearby the building that ultimately burned down, such as an errant trash can. This one is a Class E felony that can land you in jail for four years.


The two charges that we just talked about are usually included in charges that are leveled against defendants for other crimes, so you can imagine that an appeal in that sort of situation would be very difficult, if not downright impossible.

As for arson in the third degree, this is when the actual element of what your intentions were does in fact factor into the case. So basically, in this case it would be considered a part of the case that you did in fact intend to burn the building down or do some other kind of damage to a vehicle or other similar structure. This charge is considered to be a Class C felony, and can potentially land you in jail for three and a half years, but for no longer than a total of fifteen years.


NYC Arson Lawyers


Considering the harsh penalties when it comes to a charge of arson, it’s obvious that you’re going to want to hire the right defense lawyer for your case, someone who has extensive experience at handling arson cases and has a proven record. You’ll find exactly that at the law firm of Joseph Potashnik and Associates, PC. Our NYC criminal defense lawyers have represented thousands of defendants in New York criminal courts. So get in touch with us today and we’ll get you the help that you need.