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