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New York Arson Frequently Asked Questions

Any time that you damage property with intent by setting fire to it, then you have committed the crime of arson. You can also be charged with arson if you use an explosive to set fire to any kind of property. Under New York codes, there are five charges associated with arson that you could receive depending on the severity of the crime and if there were any victims as a result of the fire. Of the five charges, four are felonies. It is in your best interest to contact an attorney who can assist you with understanding your charges as well as the possible sentences if you are convicted.

What Is Listed Under A Misdemeanor?
For many people, it is unfortunate that there is only one misdemeanor arson charge in the state. Most of the time, you will be charged with fifth-degree arson if the prosecution can show that you intentionally set fire to a property using an explosive or any fire source.

What Are The Different Stages Of Felony Arson?
Fourth-degree arson involves setting a fire with any kind of intent to destroy the property. You can also be charged with fourth-degree arson if you use explosives to set fire to a piece of property. This is considered a class E felony and can be punishable by time spent in prison as well as high fines. If you start a fire or use an explosive device to damage any kind of vehicle or any kind of building, then you can be charged with third-degree arson.

If a person is injured as a result of the fire that you started, then you could be charged with second-degree arson. The prosecution will look at whether you knew that there was a person inside the vehicle or the building before setting fire to the property to determine the extent of the arson charges. You will likely be charged with first-degree arson if someone dies or is severely injured in the fire. However, the prosecuting attorney needs to be able to prove that you intentionally started the fire. Another component of arson that could result in first-degree charges involves you receiving any kind of financial gain from the fire. An example could be receiving an insurance settlement if your home is destroyed by fire, which would be a reason for you to intentionally set the fire so that you could get the money from the policy.

Is Prison the Only Option After An Arson Charge?
If you are charged with arson, an attorney can sometimes negotiate a plea deal. However, it’s important to find an attorney who has your best interests in mind. The degree of the charge will usually play a role in whether you go to prison or not and how much time you could spend in prison. A misdemeanor charge generally carries up to a year in prison. Your attorney might be able to show that there wasn’t an intent and have the charges reduced or the sentence reduced so that you don’t spend time in prison. However, a first-degree arson charge can be punishable by life in prison or at least 20 years. When you go to court, the judge will examine your background as well as your cooperation in the case and your feelings about the crime committed before making a decision about your sentence.

by Leonard on Spodek Law Group
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