Older versions of arson laws were put in place in order to stop criminals from burning another person’s house or property and were mainly aimed at protecting people from becoming trapped within their home as someone set fire to it. Nowadays, arson laws have advanced and evolved and now protect people from criminal burning of almost any type of personal property. The property no longer must be a dwelling or building meant to house people. Arson now includes the burning of land and other personally owned property.
The Crime of Arson in NJ
If someone accidentally sets fire to a house, building or other property, it is not considered arson. The burning must be intentional and it must be another person’s property of which you did not have permission to burn. You can also be charged with arson if you intended for your actions to result in the burning of someone else’s property. Regardless of what your specific goal was, to be convicted of arson, a prosecutor must first prove that the circumstances of the event reveal that you did indeed intend to burn the property.
Additionally, some state laws consider burning or destroying property because of reckless actions to be arson. Reckless actions include dangerous activities of which you are aware of the danger of destroying property yet continue doing it regardless. Moreover, many states have arson laws that include the use of explosions or explosive devices. This means that in some states, if the debris from an explosion causes a fire, you can be charged with the crime of arson.
Most states split arson crimes into two distinct levels of severity. It is possible that arson is considered a misdemeanor in some places depending on many other factors and the circumstances of the event. On the other end of the spectrum it is also possible in some states for arson to be considered a felony offense, harboring much more severe punishments. The difference in these levels of severity is largely based upon the total damage done to a property or if the structure that had been destroyed had people inside during the event.
In the event that a person’s life had been put at risk because of someone committing arson, a court may hand down a much more lengthy prison sentence as opposed to the house or building being empty. Additionally, if the person committing the crime had he direct intention of taking someone’s life, it can result in a life sentence in prison. In addition to prison time, an arson conviction may also result in fines up to more than $50,000.
Contact an NJ Arson Attorney Today
An arson charge should never be taken lightly. You may face years in prison as well as hefty fines as well as a criminal record that can prevent you from getting a job if convicted. If you have been charged with arson it may be in your best interest to contact an expert arson attorney in your area. There are big differences between state and federal arson laws and only an experienced arson attorney will be able to navigate those laws and receive the best possible scenario for their client. Contact John W. Tumelty today so that we may get started on your case and do everything in our power to get you the help you need.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.