Chester County Arson Crimes Attorney
Chester County Arson Charges
Arson is committed when a person intentionally burns almost any kind of structure or building, not just a house or business. Many states recognize differing degrees of arson, based on such factors as whether the building was occupied and whether insurance fraud was intended. Take immediate action if you are facing Arson charges in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
The common law definition of arson originally contained four elements; the crime required the malicious act of burning the dwelling of another person. Although arson fires are referred to as incendiary, not all incendiary fires are considered arson, the difference being malicious intent.
Have you been charged with a criminal Arson in Pennsylvania?
In the state of Pennsylvania, under Title 18 Article C Chapter 33, arson is defined as “…recklessly place another person in danger of death or bodily injury, including firefighters, police officers or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire…committing the act with the purpose of destroying or damaging an inhabited building or occupied structure of another.”
In 2013 there were 22,500 structure fires which were intentionally set, with arson accounting for at least 4 percent of all structure fires. Additional statistics regarding arson across the nation include:
- About 45.9 percent of the total number arson offense involve a residential structure, a public structure or a storage facility.
- Mobile properties—including motor vehicles, trailers, RVs, etc.—account for almost 24 percent of the total number of arsons.
- Arson rates are higher in cities with populations between 250,000 and 500,000.
- Among major crimes, arson has the lowest clearance rates.
- The leading cause of arson is vandalism—surprisingly, while most people believe the primary cause of arson is a desire to defraud insurance companies, in fact that motivation accounts for only 14 percent of all arsons.
- Children are responsible for at least a third of all arson fires across the U.S.
- In 2010, in the state of Pennsylvania, there were at least 1,264 arsons.
The Importance of Having a Criminal Defense Attorney When Charged with Arson
In the state of Pennsylvania, arson may be a part of an insurance fraud scheme, vandalism, or could have been nothing more than an accident, which was not arson. When a fire to a home or business is deliberately set in the state of Pennsylvania—whether out of mischief or in an attempt to defraud an insurance company, the police and the District Attorney will be tireless in their efforts to arrest and prosecute the culprit. Further, arson crimes in the state carry particularly harsh penalties, particularly if the fire endangered another person. If you are suspected of arson, in addition to state charges, you could also face federal charges. Because arson charges in the state of Pennsylvania are so serious, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices who will take your charges equally seriously.
Different Types of Arson Offenses in the State of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law defines several types of arson, including the following:
- If the arson is responsible for another’s death, including a police officer or firefighters, you could be found guilty of murder in the second degree, regardless of your intention.
- If you intentionally started a fire or caused an explosion—or hired another person to do so—and that intentional fire endangered the life of another person or recklessly placed another individual in danger of death or injury, you could be charged with a first-degree felony.
- If you intentionally started a fire or caused an explosion in an unoccupied building—with deliberate intention to destroy or damage the building and collect insurance—you could face second-degree felony charges.
- If you intentionally started a fire or caused an explosion, placing an unoccupied building in danger of destruction or damaged personal property exceeding $5,000, or if the fire destroys or damages a boat, airplane, motorcycle or car, you could face third-degree felony charges.
- If you start a fire with the intention of endangering or damaging a person or property, even if such damage does not actually occur, you will be charged with a summary offense.
- If you could control a fire without serious risk to your own personal safety, yet fail to do so, or if you fail to report an obviously dangerous fire, then you could be charged with a first-degree misdemeanor.
- If you are found in possession of incendiary materials or devices, or you manufacture or transport explosive or incendiary materials or devices, you could be charged with a third-degree felony.
Penalties for an Arson Conviction in the State of Pennsylvania
If you are charged with a first-degree felony for arson, and no death is involved, you could be sentenced to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. If you are charged with a first-degree felony for arson, and someone dies in the fire or explosion, you could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, if convicted. If you are charged with a second-degree felony for arson, and convicted of the offense, you could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. If you are charged with a third-degree felony for arson, and convicted of the offense, you could be sentenced to up to 7 years in prison.
What You Should Remember if You are Arrested for Arson in the State of Pennsylvania
If you find yourself being arrested for the crime of arson, there are several important points to remember, including:
- Do not go out of your way to make the arresting officer angry, even if you are completely innocent of the charges, as doing so will not help you in any way.
- Do not discuss the issue with the police, even to proclaim your innocence. Give the police officer your name and address, then politely refuse to answer any more questions until you have spoken to an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney. You could inadvertently say something which is taken out of context and later used against you.
Calling an attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices immediately, can ensure the best outcome possible to your charges. Our attorneys will make every effort to discredit any evidence which is not favorable to you, and if you acted with no criminal intent, we will work hard to find the evidence and witnesses to prove that. It is important that you provide your attorney with all the information to support your case for the best results.
How We Can Help
If you have been charged with arson in the state of Pennsylvania, take these charges very seriously. An attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices can review your case to determine what defenses could be available to you, whether the fire as accidental, whether you have been mistakenly identified, and whether there was actual damage. Whether you are innocent, or you simply made a one-time mistake, our experienced attorneys can help you. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, success is our mission—we are driven to serve and ready to fight. Contact Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610)-692-8700.
When people are charged with arson they face the prospect of incarceration in Chester County. Ultimately that can bring with it probation and parole, large fines, forced registration with law enforcement, and perhaps most damaging, a record that severely hinders even the most rehabilitated – sometimes for the rest of their lives.
What’s worse is that the damage can extend even to the accused’s family in many ways. Finally, where a crime has been perpetrated the accused must acknowledge the damage that may have been done to any innocent victim. While we don’t claim the ability to undo harms already done, we are here to provide finest and most ethical legal defense you’ll find anywhere.
How a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyer can help you: Be available 24/7. The key to good defense work is diligence and speed. We take this job seriously. Spend crucial time on your case so that it is prepared as good as is possible at each stage in the process. Spend time with you (and your family) learning and understanding you and your case. Spend time in investigation so that we will know the case better than even the law enforcement agency involved. Be in contact with the DA or US Attorney in an attempt to ensure that the case, where possible, is terminated as quickly as possible. Hire and manage investigators, who are often able to impeach witnesses for the government who exaggerate or change their stories at trial.
Contact our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers
You also need PA criminal lawyers both passionate in what they do and compassionate in their treatment of their clients. You deserve a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer that is available when you need him, treats you with respect, and protects your rights vigorously. We make your choice all the clearer fighting for clients throughout Chester County. For more information or to schedule an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer, contact us at (610) 692-8700.