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New York Arson Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Arson?

If you intentionally damage property by using fire or an explosive, you will face the criminal charge of arson. There are 5 different arson charges in the New York code, including 1 misdemeanor and 4 felonies. Arson is a serious crime with serious penalties.

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Is Arson a Felony or Misdemeanor?

Generally, arson is a felony because it causes damages to property and has a great potential to result in injuries or death. However, New York law includes an arson offense that is a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor arson occurs when the offender’s actions were reckless and not intentional, and where there was little property damage, and no one was injured.

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What Is Misdemeanor Arson?

In New York there are 5 different arson crimes. Only one of them is a misdemeanor. You will face the charge of arson in the fifth degree if there is evidence that you intentionally damaged property using fire or explosives.

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What Is Felony Arson?

There are 4 felony arson charges in New York. You will be charged with arson in the fourth degree if you intentionally start a fire or cause an explosion and as a result a building or a vehicle is damaged. It is a class E felony. As a New York arson lawyer will explain, the arson charged will be bumped up to arson in the third degree if you start a fire or cause an explosion and intentionally damage a building or vehicle. It is a class C felony.

The arson charge will be raised if a person is injured or is in danger of being injured due to the arson. If you start a fire or explosion that damages a building or car and you know that someone is in the building or vehicle, you will be charged with arson in the second degree, a class B felony. If someone is seriously injured or killed in the fire or explosion that you intentionally cause, you will be charged with arson in the first degree, a class A-I felony. You will also face this charge if you commit the act for financial gain.

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If I Am Convicted of Arson Will I Go to Prison?

As an arson attorney in New York will explain, whether or not you go to prison if convicted of arson depends on a variety of factors. If you are convicted of arson in the fifth degree, a misdemeanor, the maximum sentence is up to a year in jail, but it is possible that judge gives you no jail time. However, for felony arson in the fourth degree, a class E felony, arson in the third degree, a class C felony, while prison is a possibility, it is not a mandatory part of sentencing. However, of a conviction for arson in the second or first degree, you will serve some prison time. As a class A-1 felony, if you are convicted of arson in the first degree, you could be sentenced to life in prison and the minimum sentence is 20 years in prison.

Your actual sentence will depend on a several factors. The sentencing judge will look at whether or not someone was injured in the fire or explosion, your prior criminal record, whether you show remorse, and whether you cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation.

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What Is the Punishment for Arson?

The punishment for arson depends on the state law and the severity of the arson charge. If the charge is misdemeanor arson, the sentence will be relatively lenient, involving little if any jail time. If the charge is a felony, the defendant may be sentenced to multiple years in prison. Aggravating factors include the materials used to set the fire, whether the arson was committed for financial gain, the severity of the property damage, and whether anyone was injured or killed.

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Still Have Questions? Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates for Help

If you are under investigation for damaging property by fire or explosives, you should immediately seek legal guidance from an arson attorney who is familiar with New York criminal courts. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with arson, burglary, grand larceny, assault, sexual assault, and other felonies and misdemeanors. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of arson in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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