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Building a Criminal Defense Against Arson Charges

An experienced Nassau County defense attorney in your corner

Arson is the extremely serious crime of intentionally or recklessly setting a destructive fire. If you or a loved one faces such charges, then one of the most important things you can do is retain an experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney like those at the Long Island law firm Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC

You must not delay in retaining legal counsel. Some very critical issues, including which degree of arson you are to be charged with, are usually decided very shortly after your arrest or during the initial stages of the police investigation. The earlier you hire legal counsel, the faster that counsel can begin working on your defense.

Five degrees of arson in New York State

The state of New York divides the crime of arson into five degrees of severity. Several factors go into determining which degree of arson a suspected offender is charged with, including:

  • Their intent in setting the fire
  • The type of property damaged
  • Risks the fire posed to human life

Arson in the fifth degree

The least serious degree of arson, the fifth degree, is a class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail. This crime occurs when someone intentionally damages property that belongs to someone else via a fire or explosion.

Arson in the fourth degree

Fourth degree arson is a class E non-violent felony. It carries a maximum penalty of four years in jail. This type of arson occurs when someone recklessly damages a building or motor vehicle via a fire or explosion, providing nobody other than the perpetrator had a possessory interest in the structure or vehicle.

Arson in the third degree

This class C violent felony carries a minimum jail sentence of three and a half years, and a maximum jail sentence of 15 years. Someone who intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle via a fire or explosion is guilty of this crime.

Arson in the second degree

Arson in the second degree is very similar to arson in the third degree, except that another person not involved in setting the fire is in the building or vehicle at the time the fire or explosion is set, and the perpetrator knows there is a reasonable possibility this person is present.

Arson in the first degree

The most serious form of arson, arson in the first degree, is a class A-I violent felony. It carries a minimum jail sentence of 15 years to life in prison and a maximum sentence of 25 years to life. It is, essentially, arson in the second degree with one or more aggravating factors:

  • The perpetrator used an explosive or incendiary device
  • Another person was seriously injured
  • The perpetrator stood to profit financially from the crime

If you face an arson charge, do not delay in hiring a reputable criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney can investigate your case, advise you regarding your legal options and help you make critical decisions every step of the way.

A Long Island criminal defense lawyer in your corner

The Nassau County attorneys at Collins Gann McCloskey & Barry PLLC are among the most experienced criminal defense lawyers practicing on Long Island today. Contact us online or at 516-294-0300 to schedule a free consultation.


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