Burglary, vandalism, trespassing, and arson are among the more common crimes against property in New York. When the crime is arson, the motive can range from insurance fraud to terrorism. Arson is a crime against property and is defined as malicious damage or destruction of any building, inhabited structure, vehicle, vessel, or real property by means of fire or explosive device.  For fire-raising to be prosecuted, a structure doesn’t have to be entirely destroyed; the attempt alone constitutes the crime. Buildings aren’t the only targets; arson can be charged against someone who sets afire or bombs a vehicle, forest lands, or any other targeted property. If you are charged with arson in Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, or Rockland County, get legal help at once and speak to an experienced Peekskill criminal defense lawyer immediately.

An arson charge means that you deliberately and maliciously burned a structure or started a wild land fire. In order to constitute the offense of fire-raising, it must be proven by the prosecutor that the act was done with malice and ill will. The prosecution must prove evidence of the fire in conjunction with a criminal act that caused the fire. It is not enough to show motive and the particulars that constitute the offense of fire-raising do vary by state. They also carry various punishments by state.

Because the biggest fires are sometimes in the news for weeks, the pressure on law enforcement to find those responsible can be intense. Suspects are sometimes “rounded up” on the slimmest evidence. It’s easy to be caught up in a broad investigation and targeted as a suspect. Guilty or innocent, if you’re charged with fire-raising, you’re going to need experienced legal representation.

New York prosecutes arson in five different degrees. Arson in the fifth degree is a Class A misdemeanor and first degree arson is a Class A-1 felony, which means a conviction is punishable by 15 years to life in a New York State prison. However, even a fifth-degree misdemeanor arson conviction can land you in jail for a year. The other charges and penalties of fire-raising fall somewhere in between these two extremes. If you have been charged with any arson call an experienced Westchester County fire-raising attorney right away.

The precise charges an accused arsonist will face are based on factors such as the building’s occupancy (or lack thereof) and whether insurance fraud was a motive. Torching an occupied building in downtown Peekskill will reasonably enough result in a more serious arson charge than burning an abandoned structure in a rural location.

If you or someone you know faces a criminal fire-raising charge in Peekskill, Poughkeepsie, or anywhere in this region of New York, you’ll need the counsel of an experienced Peekskill criminal defense lawyer immediately. If you’re charged with arson, don’t wait to make the call. Call the law offices of Kimberly Peresz, right away, if you have been charged with any degree of fire-raising. The law office has many years of experience to defend clients accused of various crimes. Call (914) 402-4541.

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.