Greensburg Arson Attorney Near You
The smallest spark can cause a serious fire, and in Pennsylvania, if you had a hand in starting the blaze, you can face serious charges for arson. Fires and explosions put lives and property at risk, which is why the Westmoreland County takes a hard stance against those who commit arson. High fines and long terms of imprisonment are typical in arson cases, which is why it is essential to get highly-skilled legal help from an experienced Greensburg arson attorney near you.
Arson investigations are complicated, requiring a lot of time and involve detailed scientific reports. This makes arson a unique crime in that arrests, and the filing of charges usually takes place well after the fire. For this reason, it’s important to contact the knowledgeable property crime lawyers in Greensburg at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys as soon as you believe you could be arrested.
We can offer advice on your options and will begin working on your defense strategy immediately. Call us today at (724) 834-1275 or complete our online form to schedule a free and confidential consultation with our Greensburg arson lawyers.
Overview of Pennsylvania’s Arson Law
Pennsylvania’s arson statute is included in the penal code section regarding offenses against property, but it also addresses situations where people are hurt or killed because of an intentionally set fire. Arson is also a particular problem in insurance fraud, usually involving a scheme to file a claim for insurance proceeds based upon deliberate acts that cause a fire or other damage. Police recognize that someone can easily set a blaze to recover insurance money. Therefore, law enforcement meticulously investigates and scrutinizes fire scenes to uncover any evidence that may point to illegal activity, and eventually the arson perpetrator.
Classifications of Pennsylvania’s Arson Penal Code
Not all arson crimes are the same. What is considered arson in your case depends on the circumstances. The nature of the case will also range by what evidence the police gather. The statute includes several subsections on arson classifications.
Arson Endangering Persons
It’s a crime to intentionally set a fire or pay someone else to do it when the act recklessly puts another human being at risk of death or injury. Intentionally lighting a fire to destroy the occupied structure of another person is included in the definition. In addition, aggravated arson is a subsection of arson endangering persons. You may be charged with this offense if you intend to cause injury or death, instead of just acting recklessly.
Arson Endangering Property
This arson crime involves starting a fire with the intention of damaging a building, though it also encompasses reckless conduct that endangers an inhabited structure. It also prohibits burning a building with the intent to collect insurance for the loss.
Other Arson Crimes
The arson penal code also lays out numerous other offenses, which are very detailed in their description and elements. If you’re arrested for other crimes under this section, an arson attorney can explain them in more detail. Examples include:
- Arson of Historic Resource;
- Reckless Burning or Exploding;
- Dangerous Burning;
- Failure to Control or Report Dangerous Fires;
- Possession of Explosives.
Note that attempted arson can lead to the same charges as if you completed the crime, even if you didn’t even cause a spark.
Arson Jail Time, Fines, and Other Consequences
The fines and incarceration for setting an arson fire are considerable. If you’re convicted for engaging in arson in Dauphin County, a judge will issue an arson penalty according to the specifics of the crime.
Fines for an Arson Crime: The majority of arson offenses result in felony charges. The fines for arson punishment may be:
- Up to $25,000 for both first-degree arson and second-degree arson felonies; or,
- A maximum of $15,000 for a third-degree arson felony.
Potential Arson Sentence of Imprisonment: The potential term of incarceration for arson fire offenses are also severe:
- You could be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment for first- degree arson;
- Your term could be up to 10 years for a second-degree arson conviction; and,
- A third-degree felony charge of arson may result in incarceration for a maximum of seven years.
What to do if You’re Facing Arson Charges in Greensburg
Your first task if you’re arrested or predict that you’ll be charged for arson is to retain an arson lawyer right away. You have certain constitutional rights that attach before you’re arrested, and many important civil liberties are triggered once you’ve been charged. You put your rights at risk by attempting to represent yourself.
Plus, the prosecuting attorney has a heavy burden in an arson case, especially since much of the evidence may literally have gone up in smoke. There are challenges in proving, beyond a reasonable doubt that the matter is an arson crime. It can even be more difficult to prove that you did it. Your arson attorney will take every opportunity to attack these factual weaknesses.
There may also be legal defenses available for arson charges. Causing a fire by accident is not a crime, and setting your own property ablaze is perfectly legal as long as you’re not trying to collect insurance proceeds.
Finally, you may gain an advantage in an arson case through the passage of time. The statute of limitations on arson is five years in Pennsylvania. Given the fact that investigators may take a significant amount of time to collect evidence, it’s possible that the arson statute of limitations could expire before you’re ever charged.
Call Now to Discuss Your Case with a Greensburg Arson Attorney
At Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC , we have decades of combined legal experience representing clients in Greensburg and throughout Westmoreland County. We’re equipped to defend all types of criminal charges, including the most severe arson cases. If you were arrested or expect you might be soon, please call (724) 834-1275 or contact us online to set up a free and confidential consultation with an arson lawyer.