Skilled Manhattan criminal defenders fight claims of intentional fire setting

Arson is one of the most serious offenses in the criminal code and any accusation of the crime should be met with a vigorous defense. The attorneys at Tacopina Seigel & DeOreo work zealously to protect the rights and freedom of clients confronting arson charges in New York. We have obtained positive outcomes for clients facing the possibility of extensive prison sentences and other heavy penalties.

What is arson?

Under New York law, arson is the crime of intentionally damaging property by igniting a fire or explosion. To establish intent, a prosecutor may try to show that a defendant set a fire in order to collect on an insurance policy, exact revenge against an enemy or destroy evidence. Note that it is the act of starting the fire or explosion that must be intentional, not necessarily all the damage that results.

Prominent defense law firm tackles felony and misdemeanor arson charges

There are five degrees of arson recognized in New York, each with different levels of penalties.

  • First degree: This class A-1 felony is defined as deliberately setting a fire or explosion that ignites a building or vehicle occupied by another person, if either the fire was set for financial gain or it causes serious physical injury or death. The defendant must have known or understood the reasonable possibility that the property was occupied by someone who is not a participant in the crime.
  • Second degree: A class B felony, this occurs when a person sets fire to a building or vehicle while aware that the property is occupied, or that there is a reasonable possibility that it is occupied, by someone who is not a participant in the crime.
  • Third degree: This class C felony occurs when a person intentionally damages a building or vehicle by setting a fire or causing an explosion.
  • Fourth degreeIt is a class E felony to recklessly damage a building or motor vehicle by intentionally setting a fire or causing an explosion.
  • Fifth degree: Intentionally setting a fire or causing an explosion on someone else’s property without their consent, causing damage, can be charged as a class A misdemeanor.

Our seasoned criminal law attorneys treat each case with the attention it deserves, working diligently to obtain acquittals and to have arson charges dismissed or reduced.

Meticulous lawyers build strategic defenses to arson allegations

We have a thorough understanding of New York law and of the available defenses to arson charges, including:

  • Destruction of one’s own property: It is an affirmative defense to fourth-degree arson if the defendant set fire to property in which only he had a possessory or proprietary interest.
  • Destruction for a legal purpose: It is an affirmative defense to third-degree arson that the sole intent was to destroy or damage a building or motor vehicle for a lawful and proper purpose, such as demolition. However, all owners of the property must have consented and no other person or property must have been endangered.
  • Alternative causesThe fire cannot have occurred naturally or by the influence of other factors, without deliberate action by the defendant.
  • Inconclusive evidence: Arson is often proved by forensic evidence, such as traces of the inflammable or explosive material and of the method of ignition. These proofs, as well as evidence of the identity of the defendant, are subject to challenge.

As your attorneys, we will prepare a defensive strategy based on a careful review of the evidence, raising all possible sources of reasonable doubt.

Contact accomplished New York City arson defense attorneys to schedule a free consultation

Located in New York City, Tacopina Seigel & DeOreo defends clients charged with felony and misdemeanor arson in New York. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call 212-227-8877 or contact us online.