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When there’s a fire, the first question that most people ask is, “How did it start?” Being on the wrong end of an arson allegation can carry dangerous consequences. While most people know that arson has something to do with fire and burning, the distinctions between degrees of arson carry different penalties.

In New York, understanding the degrees of arson is the first step to understanding the charge against you. Arson in the 5th degree requires intentionally damaging the property of another without the consent of the owner by intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion (Class A misdemeanor).

Arson in the 4th degree requires the reckless burning of a building (Class E Felony). Arson in the 3rd degree requires the additional element of intent (Class C Felony). Arson in the 2nd degree requires that the actor knew or should have known that someone was inside the building (Class B Felony). Finally, Arson in the 1st degree requires all of the elements found in the 2nd degree plus the use of an explosive or incendiary device (Class A-I Felony). If you have difficulty distinguishing the degrees of arson, you’re not alone. That’s where the attorneys at Schalk, Ciaccio & Kahn come in.

There are several defenses when an individual is accused of committing arson. Causation can be difficult to establish in certain scenarios. Evidence must be preserved in a manner consistent with New York’s evidentiary rules. For more information regarding your rights, be sure to contact Schalk, Ciaccio & Kahn, P.C. to discuss your case.

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