Q Criminal Defense - NJ Arson FAQs (N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1)
Arson typically refers to the criminal act of starting a fire and is a serious criminal offense in New Jersey. Arson is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1, which prohibits a person from deliberately starting a fire or causing an explosion.
Arson carries different sentences based on the circumstances of the fire. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney may drastically reduce your punishments or increase your chances of an acquittal aka beating your charges.
First degree arson applies to a person who is hired to start a fire or who targets a church or religious place of worship. First degree arson is punishable by 15 years in prison, a term which must be served in its entirety without the possibility of parole.
Second degree arson or, aggravated arson, applies to a person who purposefully or knowingly starts a fire that puts other people in danger of death or bodily injury or who attempts to destroy a building or who starts a fire in order to collect insurance money for the property damage. Aggravated arson carries a sentence between five (5) and ten (10) years in prison.
The No Early Release Act (“NERA”) can apply to an aggravated arson charge. A person convicted under the statute MUSTserve no less than85% of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
Third degree arson is the charge when someone starts a fire that recklessly endangers another person or a building and carries a sentence of imprisonment of five (5) years.
Fourth degree arson applies when a person with an official, contractual, or legal duty to prevent a fire knows that a fire is endangering life or property but nonetheless fails to either put out the fire or alert others or who lawfully starts a fire but fails to control it. Fourth degree arson carries a sentence of up to 18 months in prison.
There are defenses available to an arson charge. If you have any questions at all about your criminal matter and how you can face your charges head on, please give us a call at (201) 529-8024. We want to hear your story.