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What constitutes the crime of arson in New York? Part one

Property crimes are varied, but in general include burglary, trespass and arson. We've looked at the crime of burglary in the past. Today we are going to take a look at the crime of arson.

Arson, in New York, can range from a fifth-degree crime all the way to a first-degree crime. An individual commits fifth-degree arson if he or she purposely causes damage to another person's property without that property owner's permission by deliberately causing an explosion or igniting a fire. Fifth-degree arson in New York is considered a class A misdemeanor.

The crime grows more serious from there. An individual commits fourth-degree arson if he or she recklessly causes damage to a vehicle or a building by purposely causing an explosion or igniting a fire. However, there is a defense to fourth-degree arson. If the defendant was the only person who had an ownership interest in the vehicle or building, it is an affirmative defense. Fourth-degree arson in New York is considered a class E felony.

An individual commits third-degree arson if he or she purposely causes damage to a vehicle or a building by causing an explosion or igniting a fire. Like fourth-degree arson, ownership is an affirmative defense, but also the destruction or damage to the vehicle or building must be for a legal purpose, and the individual must have no reason to think that such actions could put others in harm's way or damage another piece of property. Third-degree arson in New York is considered a class C felony.

In a future post we will discuss the elements of second-degree and first-degree arson. Until then, those with questions about arson charges or other criminal charges in the state of New York should seek the advice of a professional.

Source: New York Penal Code, "Article 150 - ARSON," accessed Feb. 1, 2015

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