Charged with Arson in NJ?

NJ Arson Law Overview

Arson is a crime that is characterized by the purposeful starting of a fire or the purposeful causing of an explosion. In New Jersey, it is an offense covered under the scope of N.J.S.A. 2C: 17-1. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, arson can be a first, second, third, or fourth degree crime. Contact a NJ Arson lawyer if you have been charged with any degree of this crime.

First Degree Arson

First-degree arson is the most serious charge a person can face for purposefully starting a fire. This charge applies to people who pay or are paid (whether paid money or any other form of consideration) to start the fire or cause the explosion. First-degree charges of arson will also automatically apply to people who target churches, synagogues, temples, or other places of public worship, even though in general the purposeful or knowing cause of a fire to a building only constitutes a second-degree charge. In these cases involving places of worship, the person guilty of arson will face a minimum term of fifteen years imprisonment without parole.

Second Degree Arson

Aggravated arson, a crime of second degree, will be found when a person purposefully or knowingly: causes a fire that puts people in danger of death or injury, tries to destroy or damage a building, structure, or forest, or starts a fire in order to collect insurance or money from the government and in the process endangers others. It is important to note that if a person is convicted of aggravated arson and the targeted building was a health care facility or physician’s office, the person will automatically face a term of imprisonment.

Third Degree Arson

Arson will be considered a third degree crime, if the fire recklessly endangers another person, structure, building, or forest. Recklessness will be found if a person consciously disregards a substantial or unjustifiable risk that his conduct creates. The act of purposefully starting a fire in order to collect money from insurance or government also falls under the category of third degree arson, unless this act puts human lives in danger, in which case it will be considered aggravated arson and be charged as a second degree crime.

Fourth Degree Arson

Arson in the fourth degree is found when a person who knows that a fire is endangering life or a substantial amount of property of another either (1) fails to take reasonable measures to put out or control the fire, when he can do so without substantial risk to himself, or (2) fails to give prompt fire alarm. However, this only applies to those who have an official, contractual, or legal duty to prevent or combat the fire. A fourth degree charge of arson will also be found when a person starts a fire or consents to a fire, albeit lawfully, on property in his custody or control, but then fails to take reasonable measure to put out/control the fire or alert the proper authorities.

Call Villani & DeLuca Today if you were Charged with Arson in NJ

If you have been charged with the very serious crime of arson you will benefit from discussing your case with an attorney. The experienced Municipal Court defenses attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. will sit down with you to discuss your charges, the possible penalties, and the possible defenses available to you. Call 732-965-3350 today for a free initial consultation.