Arson

Arson

Arson is a very serious crime in New Jersey, governed by N.J.S.A 2C:17-1. It ranges from a third to a first degree crime which can lead to jail time and substantial fines. New Jersey law defines two categories of arson, aggravated arson and simple arson.

Aggravated Arson

A person is guilty of aggravated arson if he purposely starts a fire or explosion which purposely or knowingly places another in danger of death or bodily injury (pain, physical harm); purposely destroys a building of another; purposely destroys a building in order to collect insurance which recklessly puts another in danger of death or serious bodily injury; purposely destroys a building to exempt it from any State, county, or local law, regulation, or ordinance which recklessly puts another in danger of death or serious bodily injury; or purposely attempts to destroy or damage a forest. This is a second degree offense, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000.

Simple Arson

A person is guilty of simple arson if he purposely starts a fire or explosion which recklessly places another in danger of death or bodily injury; recklessly places a building of another in danger of damage or destruction; purposely destroys a building with the purpose of collecting insurance money; purposely destroys a building to exempt it from any State, county, or local law, regulation, or ordinance; or recklessly places a forest in danger of damage or destruction. This is a third degree crime, punishable by 3 to 5 years and up to $15,000 in fines.

Difference Between Aggravated and Simple Arson

The difference between aggravated and simple arson is generally the intent of the defendant. If you start a fire or explosion with purpose of causing injury, or the purpose of destroying a building or forest and that recklessly endangers someone, you have committed aggravated arson. If you start a fire that recklessly endangers someone, or with the purpose of destroying a building but it does not endanger anyone, it is simple arson.

Certain facts can raise the level of the crime to a first degree crime. If you pay someone, or are paid to commit arson, the crime is elevated to a crime of the first degree. If the structure that was the object of the arson was a house of worship, the crime is one of the first degree, and carries with it minimum prison term of 15 years.

If you or a family member is facing charges of arson, please call the defense lawyers at LS&P Lawyers. We are available 24/7 for free consultation.

New Jersey Lawyer News - Arson