In the Pittsburgh area, suspected arson cases are thoroughly investigated by the Pittsburgh police department’s Arson Squad and the Allegheny County Arson Response Team as well as federal ATF agents. These well-trained specialists conduct intensive investigations of suspicious fires and explosions, interviewing the firefighters who responded to the scene and using sensitive operational equipment to perform field tests and analysis. If investigators suspect that insurance fraud is involved, as it is in approximately 14 percent of arson fires, their inquiry will extend to include information such as a suspect’s cell phone records.
If you are questioned by the police or charged with arson, it is likely that the prosecutor will have extensive information to use against you.
Intentional arson that endangers others carries some of Pennsylvania’s harshest penalties. It is essential that you hire an experienced and knowledgeable Pittsburgh arson lawyer as soon as you can to ensure that your rights and freedoms are protected.
Arson That Endangers Others
In Pennsylvania, if someone intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion with the intention of destroying or damaging an inhabited building, or if he or she hires someone else to cause a fire or explosion, and place another person in danger of death or injury, the individual can be charged with a felony of the first degree punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
If someone starts a fire or explosion with the intention of killing another person, and it does cause the death of someone else including a firefighter or police officer, he or she can be charged with murder of the first degree. This is the most serious crime that can be committed in Pennsylvania, and it is punished with death or life in prison without parole.
Arson That Endangers Property
If you start a fire or cause an explosion on your own property or somebody else’s, or you hire someone else to start a fire, and your intention is to destroy or damage the building, you can be charged with a felony of the second degree. You can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
If the fire or explosion caused a death, but that was not the intent, it is a felony of the second degree punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
If the fire or explosion was committed intentionally to destroy or damage an unoccupied building it is a felony of the third degree. You can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.
If someone intentionally or recklessly starts a fire to endanger any person or property, whether or not any damage actually occurred, it is a summary offense. You can be fined up to $300 or sent to jail for up to 90 days.
If you know a fire is endangering life or property and fail to take reasonable measures to put out or control the fire when you can do so without substantial risk to yourself, or if you fail to give a prompt fire alarm, it is a misdemeanor of the first degree. You can be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
If you possess, manufacture or transport an incendiary or explosive material with the intent to use it or provide it for an arson offense, it is a felony of the third degree. You can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison. Learn how a skilled property crime lawyer at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC can help.
A Pittsburgh Arson Attorney Can Defend You
Our skilled team of attorneys handle all cases as if they are there own. Call our law firm for a strong defense of your Pittsburgh arson charges. We offer free initial consultations – contact our firm today.