Westchester County Arson Lawyer

NEW YORK PENAL LAW 150.01, 150.05, 150.10, 150.15, & 150.20

Arson is the willful, malicious burning or scorching of property. Bombings can also be considered arsons, and a targeted structure does not have to be entirely destroyed for an individual to be charged with this offense.

Motives for arson range from insurance fraud to terrorism. While arsons are usually directed against buildings, arson can also be charged against anyone setting fire to forest lands, vehicles, and other properties. If you are accused of arson in Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, or Rockland County, you’ll need an aggressive Westchester County arson attorney to represent you.

Call the law offices of Kimberly Pelesz New York Law, LLC as quickly as possible if you are charged with a crime in Peekskill or anywhere in the region. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will maximize your chances of seeing a favorable case outcome. If you or a loved one have been arrested for setting a fire, contact our law firm for a free consultation by calling (914) 402-4541.


Most states identify several degrees of arson, based on factors such as the building’s occupancy (or lack of it) and whether insurance fraud was or wasn’t involved. Setting fire to an occupied building will almost always bring a more severe arson charge than burning an abandoned structure. Arson is sometimes part of a domestic violence situation, and it’s also used to hide other crimes such as murder and fraud. Arsons involving death can produce murder charges. In these situations, you may face multiple charges besides arson. The state of New York recognizes five different degrees of arson which each carry different penalties depending on the crime’s severity:

  • Arson in the fifth degree: Penal Law 150.01 (Class A Misdemeanor)
  • Arson in the fourth degree: Penal Law 150.05 (Class E Felony)
  • Arson in the third degree: Penal Law 150.10 (Class C Felony)
  • Arson in the second degree: Penal Law 150.15 (Class B Felony)
  • Arson in the first degree: Penal Law 150.20 (Class A-1 Felony)

First degree arson, which is charged as a class A felony, is the most serious of all arson charges. This charge requires that the suspect have caused serious injury to someone not involved in setting the fire. Arson in the first degree can also be described as a fire intentionally set with the expectation of financial gain and with a person not involved in setting the fire present in the structure. The prosecution must prove that the person’s presence was reasonably foreseeable by the defendant in order to convict the defendant of first degree arson. Since first degree arson is the most serious of all arson charges, the penalties are very stiff. If you are convicted of this offense, you may face up to twenty five years to life in prison. The minimum sentence that you may face for a first degree arson conviction is fifteen years to life in prison, so this charge warrants the help of a very experienced New York criminal defense lawyer.

Second degree arson, which is charged as a class B felony, is not as serious as first degree arson, but still carries very severe consequences. This crime requires the accused to have intentionally damaged a structure by setting a fire while an uninvolved party was inside the structure and while the presence of the other person was a reasonable possibility. A conviction of this offense puts you at risk of being sent to jail for up to twenty five years. The minimum punishment that you may face is five years in jail, although it is never a guarantee that you will receive the minimum sentence.

Third degree arson, which is charged as a class C felony, occurs when the accused intentionally damaged a structure by starting a fire. There are no other elements to third degree arson. If you are convicted of this offense, you may face up to fifteen years in jail, with a minimum jail sentence of one to three years.

Fourth degree arson, which is charged as a class E felony, occurs when an individual recklessly damages a structure by setting an intentional fire. It’s important to note that third degree requires that a person intentionally set a fire, while fourth degree only requires that someone recklessly starts a fire. This means the fire does not have to be intentional, it could be an accident, but it is still arson as long as it was caused because of reckless behavior. If you are convicted of fourth degree arson, you may face up to four years in jail.

Fifth degree arson, which is charged as a class A misdemeanor, is the least serious charge of all arson crimes, but it still carries severe consequences. Fifth degree arson occurs when the suspect intentionally damages the property of another, without the property owner’s consent, by intentionally setting a fire or causing an explosion. If you are convicted of fifth degree arson, you may face up to one year in jail.

Every one of these arson charges carries penalties that could affect you for the rest of your life. If you or a loved one has been charged with arson, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced Westchester County defense attorney as quickly as possible.


Don’t give up hope if you are charged with arson. Every arson charge does not lead to a conviction, and the sooner that you contact an experienced Westchester County arson lawyer, the sooner you will have a strong legal defense to fight the charges. In order to prove that you are guilty of arson, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to set a fire to the property. It is very difficult to prove intent, so consult with a skilled arson attorney right away to discuss your legal options.

Arson penalties are serious. If you or someone you know faces criminal arson charges in Peekskill, Poughkeepsie, or anywhere in this region of New York, speak to an experienced Westchester County arson attorney immediately. With offices in Peekskill and Poughkeepsie, Kimberly Pelesz New York Law, LLC serves New York clients in Beacon, Fishkill, Wappingers Falls, Newburgh, Tarrytown, Greenburgh, Westchester County, Dutchess County, Putnam County, Orange County, and Rockland County. To learn more about how a Westchester County arson attorney can help you fight an arson charge, email us or call our law firm at (914) 402-4541.

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