Property crimes in New York include burglary, vandalism, trespassing, and arson. Arson crimes are committed for motives ranging from terrorism to insurance fraud. Arson is legally defined as the willful, malicious burning or charring of property. Bombings are also arsons, and a structure need not be entirely destroyed for arson to be charged. Arson can also be charged against anyone setting fire to forest lands, vehicles, or other properties. If you are charged with pyromania on Long Island, in New York City, or anywhere in New York State, get the legal help you need immediately, and contact an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer as quickly as possible.

Arson: A Multi-Layered Offense

There are several different arson related offenses that exist in New York under which a person can be prosecuted.  The specific facts of each case will determine which level of pyromania a person should be charged with but, generally, the more culpable the behavior, the more severe the consequences faced. Setting fire to an occupied building will obviously bring a more severe arson charge than burning an abandoned barn in a rural setting. Arson is often a part of domestic violence situations, and it’s also sometimes used to hide other crimes including murder and fraud.

A Matter of Degrees

For example, at the lowest end of the spectrum is pyromania in the fifth degree, which is identified by the intentional setting of a fire or causing of an explosion that causes damage to another person’s property.  While this might sound general enough to include just about every possible scenario of arson, it is usually reserved for incidents when only minor damage occurs.  Other statutes exist for more serious incidents that result in deaths or that are committed against certain types of property.

Fourth degree arson is identified by an element of recklessness in the intentional setting of a fire or causing of an explosion.  Third degree arson is identified by the specific setting of a fire or causing of an explosion that causes damage to a building or vehicle.  Third degree pyromania is considered more severe than fifth degree because setting a fire or causing an explosion to a building or vehicle is more likely to cause injury to someone else than simply burning property that is not a building or vehicle.  Even more severe than third degree arson is arson in the second, identified by the known presence of another person in the building or vehicle that is intentionally set fire to or damaged by explosion.

The most serious form of arson is first degree arson, which is identified by the presence of a death or injury as the result of an intentional setting of a fire or explosion.

Arson penalties are serious; even a fifth-degree misdemeanor pyromania can put you in jail for a year if you’re convicted. If you or someone you know faces a criminal arson charge in New York or on Long Island, retain the advice and services an experienced Long Island criminal defense lawyer at once. If you are suspected of arson, it’s the wisest choice you can make.

What Arson Suspects Face

Depending on the circumstances of the case, an arson suspect may face up to 25 years in prison if convicted. In addition to jail time, individuals accused of pyromania face the risk of having to pay serious fines and losing the trust and support of friends, family, and the community at large. Not to mention the civil damages that may follow a convicted arsonist after a guilty verdict in criminal court. The specific facts of the case will weigh heavily on the type of punishment handed down, with stiffer punishments reserved for those whose actions result in the death or serious injury of another.

What is important for arson suspects to understand is that there are several layers to the charge – in New York, the law recognizes five of these layers, or degrees, and treats each degree differently, both in terms of what must be proven by the prosecution and the ultimate consequence facing the person charged with the offense.

If Accused of Arson

When the police think they have enough evidence to show that a person committed one of the above mentioned degrees of pyromania, they can arrest the person and charge the person with the crime.  During the arrest and investigation, suspects are urged not to speak to police, under any circumstances, other than for purposes of identification and to request legal representation.

The attorney will be able to explain to the suspect exactly what crime he or she is being charged with, what evidence exists to substantiate the charge, the potential consequences of the charge, and the suspect’s best legal options moving forward.  Considering how much is at stake in a serious pyromania charge, letting a skilled attorney handle their defense is a person’s best bet for clearing their name.

If you have been accused of arson, it’s important to remember that you are innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the law. You don’t have to prove your innocence. The burden is on the prosecution to prove that you are guilty, so stay silent and let your Long Island pyromania attorney handle the legalities of the criminal case.

When a case goes to trial, the prosecution is required to present their case.  In order to show that a suspect actually committed a crime, the prosecution must show the presence of certain elements of the offense.  If any of the essential elements can’t be proven, the prosecution has no case.  However, disproving any of these elements can require skilled legal experience and is not something that should be trusted to someone without legal experience. Don’t put your future in the hands of a public defender who will not work tirelessly to fight your charges and achieve the best possible outcome for your case. With up to 25 years in prison on the line, there is simply too much at risk to trust a defense to anything but credentialed and proven legal counsel.