The possible penalties for arson are harsh in New Jersey, being as extreme as 20 years in prison. Discover the different penalties that coincide with the different arson offenses and how one of the experienced Middlesex County criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael A. Policastro can help to reduce or eliminate these charges altogether.
What are the different degrees of arson offenses?
There are four different types of arson offenses considered in the state of New Jersey. For one, first-degree arson is the most serious offense. It applies to arson for hire usually seen in cases of insurance fraud. Or, it applies to arson that targets a church, mosque, synagogue, or another house of worship.
Arson can be classified as aggravated when the offense is considered more severe. In cases like this, the offense would be considered second-degree arson. This applies if you start a fire or cause an explosion, regardless of if it was your property or that of another party. Additionally, you must have committed the following actions:
- You purposely or knowingly placed the other party in danger of death or bodily injury.
- You acted with the purpose of destroying the other party’s building or structure.
- You acted with the purpose of collecting insurance for the destruction or damage of the property under which you recklessly placed the other party in danger of death or bodily injury.
- You acted with the purpose of destroying or damaging a structure to exempt it from any state, county, or local planning or zoning law regulation, ordinance, or enactment.
- You purposely acted to destroy or damage any forest.
As for third-degree arson, it applies if you recklessly started a fire or caused an explosion with the intent to endanger a building or a person with death or bodily injury.
And lastly, if you are an official or someone who has a legal duty to prevent a fire that is endangering life or property, but you fail to put it out or warn others, you can be charged with fourth-degree arson.
What are the different penalties for arson offenses?
The specific penalties will depend on the specific circumstances of your offense. Nonetheless, below are the prison sentences that are commonly associated with the different degrees of arson offenses:
- First-degree arson: a prison sentence anywhere between 10 to 20 years. Specifically, if the arson involves a house of worship, the sentence is 15 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
- Second-degree arson: a prison sentence anywhere between five to 10 years. This is also subject to the No Early Release Act, in which you will be required to serve a minimum term of 85% of your given sentence.
- Third-degree arson: a prison sentence of five years.
- Fourth-degree arson: a prison sentence of 18 months.
If you need assistance in fighting these charges, contact a skilled Middlesex County criminal defense attorney today.
Contact our experienced New Jersey firm
No matter your circumstances, if you are facing criminal charges, contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Policastro today for the experienced legal counsel you deserve and need.