Arson Charges are Complex in Pennsylvania
An interesting but sad story emerged out of Plumville this week. Two volunteer firefighters were accused of setting fire to a furniture store. After being taken in and questioned by police, the two also admitted to setting fire to an abandoned garage and carport in Indiana County. The story has many people in those communities concerned that the two men worked in the field of firefighting.
It also sheds light on the crime of arson in Pennsylvania, which is a complex area of criminal law. Within the state, there are many different definitions of arson, and many different penalties associated with the crime.
Arson in Pennsylvania Defined
Pennsylvania law defines several different types of offenses as arson. These include:
- Intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion, or hiring someone to do either of these acts, that recklessly places another person in danger of injury or death,
- A fire or explosion that causes the death of another person, including firefighters or police, regardless of a person’s intention,
- Intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion that damages property with the intention of collecting insurance, or for another illegal purpose,
- Intentionally or recklessly starting a fire that places a person or property in danger, even if no actual damage occurs,
- Failing to take reasonable measures to control a fire when a person is able to do so without putting themselves at risk,
- Possessing, manufacturing, or transporting explosive or incendiary materials
While all of these offenses are considered crimes in Pennsylvania, some are more severe than others. The penalties associated with the offenses have varying degrees of severity.
Penalties for Arson in Pennsylvania
Most arson offenses in Pennsylvania are considered felonies and as such, come with harsh penalties for those convicted.
Convictions for a first-degree felony carry a sentence of up to 20 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $25,000. Second-degree felony offenses carry a sentence of up to ten years in prison and the same maximum fine of $25,000. If the arson is considered a third-degree felony, the sentence is up to 7 years in state prison and a maximum fine of $15,000.
Aggravated arson is an elevated arson charge. This charge is brought when police suspect the arson was committed knowing that someone would likely suffer harm as a result. This charge has a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison if someone is actually injured in the fire.
Call our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers for a Solid Arson Defense
Arson charges in Pennsylvania are serious, but there are many possible defenses to them as well. At van der Veen, O’Neil, Hartshorn, and Levin, our Allentown criminal defense attorneys know how to craft a solid defense to give you the best chance of avoiding jail time and retaining your freedom. Call us today at 215-515-6892 to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys so we can get started on your case.