Once a fire has been extinguished in New York City, officials will conduct an investigation to try and determine the cause of the blaze. When firefighters indicate that a blaze was not behaving normally, possibly because of multiple points of origin or the presence of accelerants, investigations often turn to possible arson.
In such cases, investigators rarely have witnesses to turn to and instead use a combination of direct scientific and circumstantial evidence that often implicates an alleged offender who set the fire either for some kind of financial gain or as an act of aggression or revenge against the property owner. State law in New York establishes five degrees of arson offenses, and a conviction for any one of them can result in possible incarceration and fines.
Attorney for Arson Arrests in Queens, NY
If you were arrested or think that you could possibly be under investigation for an alleged arson offense anywhere in the greater New York City area, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal counsel. In other words, do not speak to the police. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner can work to possibly get these criminal charges eliminated or minimized.
Rochelle S. Berliner is an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Queens who represents clients accused of property crimes in communities all over Queens County, New York County, Bronx County, and Kings County. Call Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner today to have our attorney provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation.
New York Arson Crimes Information Center
- How are the different degrees of arson crimes determined?
- What are the possible sentences alleged offenders might receive if convicted of arson?
- Where can I find more information about arson in Queens?
An alleged offender’s culpable mental state can play a large role in determining the degree of arson that he or she is charged with. New York Penal Law § 15.05(1) establishes that a “person acts intentionally with respect to a result or to conduct described by a statute defining an offense when his conscious objective is to cause such result or to engage in such conduct,” but a person acts recklessly under New York Penal Law § 15.05(3) when he or she is “aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists.”
Arson crimes are typically graded as follows:
- If an alleged offender intentionally damages property of another without consent of the owner by intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion, the person commits Arson in the Fifth Degree under New York Penal Law § 150.01.
- If an alleged offender recklessly damages a building or motor vehicle by intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion, the person commits Arson in the Fourth Degree under New York Penal Law § 150.05.
- If an alleged offender intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle by starting a fire or causing an explosion, the person commits Arson in the Third Degree under New York Penal Law § 150.10.
- If an alleged offender intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle by starting a fire, and when (a) another person who is not a participant in the crime is present in such building or motor vehicle at the time, and (b) the alleged offender knows that fact or the circumstances are such as to render the presence of such a person therein a reasonable possibility, the alleged offender commits Arson in the Second Degree under New York Penal Law § 150.15.
- If an alleged offender intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle by causing an explosion or a fire and when (a) such explosion or fire is caused by an incendiary device propelled, thrown or placed inside or near such building or motor vehicle; or when such explosion or fire is caused by an explosive; or when such explosion or fire either (i) causes serious physical injury to another person other than a participant or the explosion or (ii) fire was caused with the expectation or receipt of financial advantage or pecuniary profit by the actor; and when (b) another person who is not a participant in the crime is present in such building or motor vehicle at the time and (c) the alleged offender knows that fact or the circumstances are such as to render the presence of such person therein a reasonable possibility, the alleged offender commits Arson in the First Degree under New York Penal Law § 150.20.
The consequences of an arson conviction depend on the degree of the crime the individual was charged with as well as the amount of damage caused. In addition to possibly being ordered to pay a fine and restitution to the alleged victim, an alleged offender could receive one of the following sentences if convicted of arson in New York:
- Arson in the Fifth Degree — Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail;
- Arson in the Fourth Degree — Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison;
- Arson in the Third Degree — Class C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison;
- Arson in the Second Degree — Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison; or
- Arson in the First Degree — Class A-I felony punishable by up to life in prison.
Fire Department City of New York (FDNY) — The FDNY is the largest fire department in the United States. On this website, you can find information about how to obtain copies of Fire Investigation and Fire Marshal Reports. You can also access various types of fire safety information, including tip sheets, literature, and children’s activity books.
FDNY Engine 305 & Ladder 151
111-02 Queens Blvd.
Forest Hills, NY 11375
Inspections and Investigations Branch | Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) — Visit this section of the OFPC website to learn more about the Fire Inspection and Investigation Branch. The Fire and Arson Investigation Group conducts fire investigations and assists local fire investigation units. You can access various forms and publications, including several reports.
Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner | Queens Arson Defense Lawyer
Do you believe that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested in New York City for allegedly committing arson? Even if you know that you are totally innocent, you should still not say anything to authorities without legal representation. Contact Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner right now for help achieving the most favorable outcome to your case.
Queens criminal defense attorney Rochelle S. Berliner aggressively defends individuals in Queens, the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and many other surrounding areas of New York City. You can have her review your case and answer all of your legal questions as soon as you call 718-261-5600 or complete an online contact to schedule a free, confidential consultation
Rochelle Berliner grew up in Queens, NY. She started New York Law School in January 1989 and graduated in June 1991. Immediately after law school, she started working at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she stayed for approximately 14 years...
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