A conviction for arson or a related property crime can have a long-lasting impact on a person’s life. In addition to jail or prison time, a person could be forced to pay expensive fines and carry the burden of a criminal record. Even after the court-ordered punishment is completed, arson convictions could prevent you from living the life you want.
In Pennsylvania, if a person is convicted of an arson offense, he or she could be prohibited from serving as a firefighter, according to the State Fire Commissioner Act. This means even a mistake as a young adult could alter the rest of your life. Fighting a conviction can be important for several reasons.
Michael J. Skinner and the Skinner Law Firm can help you understand the charges you are facing and provide you with options. They understand how important your reputation and future are, and they can help you protect them. The Skinner Law Firm represents clients throughout Chester County and Delaware County. Call (610) 436-1410 to schedule a free consultation.
In Pennsylvania, arson charges differ based on who or what the fire could have harmed or potentially harmed. According to 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3301, a person could be charged with “arson endangering persons” or “arson endangering property.”
For instance, a person commits “arson endangering persons” if he or she intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion that recklessly places another person in danger or he or she commits the act with the purpose of destroying or damaging an inhabited building or occupied structure of another.
In these scenarios, if a person starts a fire and it recklessly places a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire in danger of death or bodily injury, it could be considered arson. This charge still could apply if a person aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion.
Arson endangering people is a first-degree felony, which could carry up to 20 years in prison, fines up to $25,000 or both. However, if a person is killed as a result of the fire or explosion, the charges and penalties could increase.
If the fire or explosion causes the death of any person, including a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire, the person could face a second-degree murder charge. If the fire or explosion causes the death of another person with the purpose of killing a person, the accused could face first-degree murder charges. This could mean life in prison without parole.
“Arson endangering property” is an offense that involves intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion with the intent of destroying or damaging a building or recklessly placing an inhabited building or occupied structure in danger of damage.
This also could apply if a person commits the act with the intent of destroying or damaging any property, whether his own or of another, to collect insurance for such loss, according to 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3301(c).
For instance, if a person purposefully burns down his or her own home to collect insurance money, if convicted, he or she could be charged with a second-degree felony. The charge is considered serious, and it can carry up to 10 years in prison, up to $25,000 in fines or both.
If you are facing charges for allegedly starting a dangerous fire in Delaware County or the West Chester Area, contact an arson defense attorney at the Skinner Law Firm. Our legal team can work with you one-on-one to ensure your rights are represented. You do not have to face the legal system alone. Call (610) 436-1410 for a free consultation.