New Jersey Aggravated Arson Law
We represent clients charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1; New Jersey aggravated arson complaints and indictments filed in Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Mercer County, Somerset County, Essex County, Union County, and Hudson County.
New Jersey aggravated arson law prohibits starting fires - there need to be no burning - or causing explosions.
Arson is a crime of the second degree or third degree depending on whether it is aggravated - second degree - or not.
It can be elevated to a crime of the first degree if there was payment made for starting a fire or causing an explosion or the target of the offense was a church or synagogue or other place of public worship.
To procure a conviction of aggravated arson, the state must prove two key elements.
First, defendant started a fire or caused an explosion.
Second, at least one of the following three things happened:
Defendant purposely or knowingly placed another person in danger of death or bodily injury - it makes no difference the type of property being burned.
A reckless act does not qualify as aggravated arson and must be prosecuted as a lesser offense.
Or the state must prove defendant did the act with purpose to destroy building or structure of another.
Here, destroying one's own property is a complete defense.
Or the act was done for purpose of collecting insurance.
Here, the state would also have to prove that the defendant acted "recklessly" under circumstances which placed another person in danger of death or bodily injury.
The state must first prove that defendant started a fire or caused an explosion - it makes no difference if the property involved is defendant's property because a person could be prosecuted even if he burns or causes his own property to explode if he purposely or knowingly places another in danger.
Also, it is aggravated arson if defendant acted with purpose to destroy or damage a structure in order to exempt it from state, county or local zoning, planning or building law, regulation, ordinance or enactment.
Finally, under New Jersey aggravated arson law, aggravated arson includes purposely damaging or destroying a forest.
Intoxication is a defense to an offense which requires purposeful conduct.
Hence, if the defendant was intoxicated then the state may obtain a conviction under the law that requires less culpability.
Mandatory imprisonment is imposed for a conviction of aggravated arson of a health care facility or physician's office.
If an emergency services personnel is injured as a result of the aggravated arson then the defendant may also be convicted of aggravated assault.
If you have any questions for a New Jersey criminal defense attorney about a New Jersey aggravated arson charge, please do not hesitate to contact us.