New York Penal Law § 150.01: Arson in the fifth degree

Arson is the crime of intentionally damaging properly by the use of fire or explosives. While buildings are often damaged by arson, the property damaged by arson can also be a vehicle or watercraft. There are five different arson offenses in the New York criminal code. The least serious arson crime is arson in the fifth degree. Under New York Penal Law § 150.01, arson in the fifth degree involves intentionally damaging property of another without consent of the owner by intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion.

Example

Jonas was mad at his girlfriend who just broke up with him. That night he decided to get revenge on her by setting her house on fire. Jonas' friend Luke convinced Jonas that setting his ex-girlfriend's house on fire was a bad idea. However, Jonas, still angry, set a retail store on fire instead.

In another case, Michael was also mad at his ex-girlfriend. He went to her house and banged on the front door. His ex-girlfriend refused to let him in. Michael stood on her porch for a while smoking and cigarette. He then absentmindedly flicked the still lit cigarette onto a pile of newspapers that were on the porch and started to walk away. Unbeknownst to him, the papers and then the porch were soon engulfed in flames.

Jonas could be prosecuted for arson in the fifth degree while Michael could not. Jonas intentionally set a structure on fire while Michael did so accidentally.

Related Offenses
  1. Arson in the Fourth Degree: New York Penal Law § 150.05
  2. Arson in the Third Degree: New York Penal Law § 150.10
  3. Arson in the Second Degree: New York Penal Law § 150.15
  4. Arson in the First Degree: New York Penal Law § 150.20
Defenses

One possible defense to a charge of arson in the fifth degree is that you did not intentionally set the fire, but that you did so accidentally. If the fire was indeed an accident, then the prosecutor will have a difficult time convicting you of arson in the fifth degree. Another possible defense is that you were the sole owner of the property. Under the arson in the fifth degree statute, to be guilty you must have damaged the property of another person.

Sentence

Arson in the fifth degree is a class A misdemeanor. The maximum possible jail sentence is 1 year. The judge may decide to sentence you to probation instead of jail. The probation term would be 3 years. In addition, the judge may also order you to pay a fine and pay restitution to the victim.

New York Penal Law § 150.01: Arson in the Fifth Degree

A person is guilty of arson in the fifth degree when he or she intentionally damages property of another without consent of the owner by intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been charged with arson in the fifth degree you could end up in jail and there may be financial consequences. Thus, it is important that you immediately seek experienced legal guidance. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with arson as well as other serious crimes such as sexual assault, rape, harassment, menacing, and reckless endangerment. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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