Regardless of whether a fire is started intentionally or recklessly, the person responsible will be facing arson charges. The only difference is the degree of the crime. There are 4 different degrees of Arson. The first degree is charged to a person that either hired another individual to commit arson, was hired to commit arson, or set fire to a place of worship. The second degree (also known as “Aggravated Arson”) is reserved for those who knowingly set a fire in an attempt to cause bodily harm to another person or destroy another person’s property. The third degree is reserved for those that purposely started a fire that recklessly resulted in a risk of bodily harm to another person or harm to another person’s property. The fourth degree is reserved for those that have a legal, contractual, or official obligation to prevent or fight a fire and fail to take reasonable steps to perform their obligations or fail to report a fire. The penalties of all four degrees of the crime include jail time and in some cases, mandatory sentences. Here are the penalties for each degree:
First Degree Arson
-10-20 year prison sentence and up to $200,000 in fines
Second Degree Aggravated Arson
-5-10 year prison sentence and up to $150,000 in fines
Third Degree Arson
-3-5 year prison sentence and up to $15,000 in fines
Fourth Degree Arson
-Up to an 18 month prison sentence and $10,000 in fines
Defenses Against Arson Charges
If you have been charged with Arson, regardless of the degree of the crime, you will need to have an attorney on your side. Notice that the penalties above mention “up-to” a certain amount and in most cases those penalties will not reach the maximum unless you do not have an experienced professional defending you. Fred Sisto can prepare a defense on your behalf by utilizing any of the following defense strategies, among many others:
- Raising reasonable doubt regarding whether the State gathered evidence of how the fire was started in a professional manner.
- Impeaching the State’s expert witness regarding whether the fire was set intentionally.
- Demonstrating that the fire was not started intentionally in order to reduce the degree of the crime.
- Gathering evidence of third party guilt
Regardless of your unique situation, Fred Sisto can defend you professionally and help you through a very difficult time in your life. Call Fred Sisto at 732-898-3232 for a free consultation regarding your situation.