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NY Penal Law § 150.10: Arson in the Third 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 can also be a vehicle or watercraft. Under New York Penal Law § 150.10, arson in the third degree involves intentionally damaging a building or vehicle by the use of fire or by causing an explosion. Included in the definition of a building is any structure, vehicle or watercraft that is used for overnight lodging or for carrying on a business.


Doug is suffering significant business losses. Unable to figure out how to improve his business's financial situation, Doug decides to burn the business's offices and collect the insurance money. Among other things, Doug could be charged with arson in the third degree since he intentionally damaged a building with fire. Even though Doug owned the structure, he did not burn it for a lawful reason, but to commit insurance fraud.

Related Offenses
  1. Arson in the fifth degree: New York Penal Law § 150.01
  2. Arson in the fourth degree: New York Penal Law § 150.05
  3. Arson in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 150.15
  4. Arson in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 150.20

One possible defense to a charge of arson in the third degree is that the fire was not set intentionally but accidentally. If the fire or explosion was indeed an accident, you cannot be convicted of arson in the third degree.

Another possible defense would be that you are the sole owner of the building and that you set the fire or explosion for a lawful purpose as permitted under New York Penal Law § 150.10(2)(b).


Because arson in the third degree is a class C felony, the maximum sentence is 15 years in prison and a minimum of 1 year. In addition, the judge may also order you to pay a fine as well as restitution to any victims.

New York Penal Law § 150.10: Arson in the Third Degree
  1. A person is guilty of arson in the third degree when he intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle by starting a fire or causing an explosion.

  2. In any prosecution under this section, it is an affirmative defense that (a) no person other than the defendant had a possessory or proprietary interest in the building or motor vehicle, or if other persons had such interests, all of them consented to the defendant`s conduct, and (b) the defendant`s sole intent was to destroy or damage the building or motor vehicle for a lawful and proper purpose, and (c) the defendant had no reasonable ground to believe that his conduct might endanger the life or safety of another person or damage another building or motor vehicle.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are charged with arson in the third degree it is important that you are represented by someone who has experience. Like most criminal cases arson cases are complicated and involve complex evidentiary issues. 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 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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