An arson charge is a serious criminal charge in Pennsylvania, and can carry severe legal ramifications if convicted. If convicted of arson, a person will often face a lengthy prison sentence, as well as the potential loss of opportunities in the future.
Retain the counsel of a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can provide you with more information about what constitutes arson in Stroudsburg, Palmerton and Bethlehem, as well as the legal consequences of an arson conviction.
Understanding Arson in Pennsylvania
While arson in general refers to intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion, arson law in Pennsylvania is relatively complex, and the definitions of arson have been divided into categories under Pennsylvania code.
The different types of arson-related crimes in Pennsylvania include:
- arson that endangers a person;
- dangerous burning;
- reckless burning or exploding;
- arson that endangers property;
- failure to control or report dangerous fires; and
- possession of material that is explosive or incendiary with the intent to cause arson.
According to 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. Sec. 3301 (a)(1), a person who intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion or aids another person in starting a fire or causing an explosion has automatically committed a first-degree felony if he or she recklessly places another person in danger as a result, or if the act is committed with the purpose of destroying or damaging an occupied structure.
Just as each type of arson-related crime has a different definition that must be satisfied to be convicted, each type of arson also has different penalties that range in severity.
Legal Consequences of Committing Arson in Pennsylvania
According to Pennsylvania Crimes Code Offenses List, Section 303.15, arson is a felony charge in the state of Pennsylvania in nearly all cases. In the case that a person convicted of committing arson caused the death of a person by the fire or explosion, the defendant will face charges of murder in the second degree. If the person intended to cause death the charge is murder in the first degree, and is punishable by the death penalty.
Arson that endangers a person, but does not cause death, is a first-degree felony punishable by a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Arson that endangers property is a second-degree felony charge, and holds a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Other types of arson, such as reckless burning or dangerous burning, hold less severe consequences. The former is a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in prison; the latter is a summary offense punishable by an incarceration sentence of no more than 90 days. A person can also be guilty of an arson-related crime for failing to report a dangerous fire. In this case, the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by an incarceration sentence of up to five years.
Proving that arson occurred, and the degree or type of arson, is a complicated process that the prosecution will work hard to achieve. In order to secure the best outcome possible for your case if you’re facing arson charges, it’s imperative that you retain legal counsel.
Seek Legal Counsel Today at ARM Lawyers
A criminal defense attorney can be an essential resource for a person facing arson charges in Pennsylvania. If you are in need of criminal defense counseling, an attorney can provide you with more information about your rights and what your options are moving forward.