If you or a family member is charged with allegedly committing arson that resulted in the death of another, now is the time to retain the services of an experienced NYC criminal defense attorney. Why? Because charges related to arson and the death of another are extremely serious and can effectively ruin your life, if convicted.
An example of the severity of arson charges can be found in the case involving a Brooklyn teenager who is accused of committing arson murder in Jamaica, Queens.
A fire was started in an apartment that sits above Next Generation of Victory Church on 150 Street near 97th Avenue. The fire trapped a 64-year-old man and an 86-year-old man. Tragically, both men died in the fire.
FDNY fire marshals conducted an investigation into the deadly fire and concluded that the deaths were homicides since the fire was set intentionally. After a few weeks passed, the Brooklyn teenager was arrested and charged on two counts of murder. An FDNY official alleged the teenager intentionally set the fire with a marijuana blunt just outside the apartment door which trapped the two elderly men, according to the New York Daily News.
At a hearing in Queens Supreme Court, the lawyer for now 18-year-old defendant stated he’s seen little evidence the fire was intentionally set. “It’s circumstantial at best, the whole case,” said the defense attorney to the judge. If convicted, the defendant could face up to 25 years in prison.
Overview of Arson Law in New York
Under New York law, arson occurs when someone intentionally or recklessly sets a fire or causes an explosion. There are five degrees of arson charges in New York. Here is an overview of the different degrees:
- Arson in the First Degree – This is a Class A-I felony and is the most serious arson charge under New York law. It applies when someone intentionally sets a fire or explosion in a building or motor vehicle and the fire causes serious physical injury or death to an individual.
- Arson in the Second Degree – This is a Class B violent felony and applies when someone intentionally sets fire to a car or building while another person is inside, and the defendant knew there was a possibility that the individual(s) were present inside the vehicle or building.
- Arson in the Third Degree – This is a Class C felony and applies when someone intentionally uses fire or explosives to damage a motor vehicle or building.
- Arson in the Fourth Degree – This is a Class E felony charge and applies when there is evidence of reckless damage to a motor vehicle or building from an intentionally or recklessly set fire or explosion.
- Arson in the Fifth Degree – This is a Class A misdemeanor charge and applies when someone intentionally damages another person’s property without the consent of the owner by starting a fire or causing an explosion. If convicted, a defendant could be ordered to serve up to one year in prison.
Defending Against Arson Charges
If you or a family member has been charged with allegedly committing arson, do not give up hope. Speak to an attorney to discuss your legal options. There are numerous valid defenses to combat arson charges, such as:
- You destroyed your own property;
- You did not own the property, but had the owner’s permission to destroy it;
- There was no financial interest in the destruction;
- The fire or explosion was not caused intentionally, but was an accident; and/or
- There is a lack of evidence that the fire was incendiary
Speak to a New York City Arson Defense Lawyer Today
Dealing with the criminal justice system in Brooklyn can be intimidating and overwhelming. Whether you are the target of an investigation, have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony arson offense, or are concerned you could be charged in the near future, you need to take action by contacting an experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer today.