Contact Our Jersey City Office To Speak To A Former County Prosecutor Who Served As Director Of The Economic Crimes Unit With Jurisdiction Over Arson Charges
Arson, also referred to as simple arson, is rather well-known amongst the public. One of the most common scenario’s that results in a defendant getting charged with arson in Hudson Count, New Jersey stems from what seemed like at the time an innocent prank. While it is a lesser offense than aggravated arson, it still constitutes a crime in the third degree. This means that a conviction will carry up to five years in a New Jersey Prison. Additionally, substantial fines can be assessed upon individuals found guilty of the offense. Defending against these charges at the Hudson County Superior Court is not likely to be an easy task. Rather, legal representation provided by a seasoned criminal trial attorney may be necessary. Furthermore, a defendant charged the offense of arson may also find themselves facing criminal mischief, aggravated assault, criminal trespassing or burglary. At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, we have a team of experienced criminal trial attorneys, some of which have spent time as County Prosecutors in New Jersey. Our attorneys will analyze the facts of your case and put together a comprehensive legal defense on your behalf. Moreover our familiarity with the Hudson County court system enables us to avoid any procedural pitfalls. If you or someone you know has been charged with the offense of arson in Hudson County, we can help. Our office has been representing defendant’s charged with the offense of arson in towns like Bayonne, North Bergen, Hoboken, Weehawken and Union City for over a decade. If you would like to discuss your case with any one of our eight Hudson County NJ criminal defense attorneys, please contact our Jersey City office at (201) 309-1800. Our attorneys are available 24/7 to assist you in anyway possible. Now here is some important information on the offense of arson.
What is the Difference Between Aggravated Arson and Arson in Hudson County, NJ?
The distinguishing features between simple arson and aggravated arson are the mental state requirements for each of the crimes. As you will notice below, the prohibited actions and circumstances are virtually identical. Both prohibit putting another in bodily danger, destroying a building, destroying a structure to collect insurance or avoid zoning laws, and destroying forests. However, each of these acts have a reduced mental culpability for simple arson as opposed to aggravated arson. Notice, simple arson makes it a crime to recklessly put another person in danger; contrast this with aggravated arson which makes it a crime to purposely or knowingly put a person at risk.
Elements of Arson: N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1
Conviction for arson requires the state to prove that:
- Defendant started a fire or caused an explosion,
- Defendant acted purposely, AND
- One of the following resulted from the fire or explosion:
- Defendant recklessly put another person in danger of death or bodily harm, or
- Defendant recklessly destroyed a building or structure, or
- Defendant purposely wanted to collect insurance benefits, or
- Defendant purposely damaged a structure to avoid zoning or ordinance requirements, or
- Defendant recklessly damaged or destroyed a forest.
There are a number of distinctions between the elements for aggravated arson and simple arson. As noted above, arson has a lesser standard for the mental state or culpability of the arsonist; simple arson typically only requires the defendant to act recklessly. A person acts recklessly when they disregard a known substantial and unjustifiable risk, and the nature of their behavior constitutes a gross deviation from how a reasonable person in a similar situation would act. One final distinction between aggravated arson simple arson is seen in both the insurance benefit element and the zoning ordinance element. Simple arson does not require that the arsonist recklessly put another person in danger of death or bodily harm. Conversely, aggravated arson requires that the arsonist place another person in danger of death or bodily injury when attempting to collect on insurance or avoid zoning regulations.
What are the Criminal Penalties for Arson in NJ?
Arson, or simple arson, is a third degree crime and constitutes an indictable offense and it will be heard before a superior court judge. As an indictable offense, persons charged with this crime face considerable prison time. Third degree arson carries a potential penalty of between three (3) and five (5) years in prison. In addition to prison time, persons convicted of arson can face a State imposed fine of up to $15,000. Parties should also be wary of possible lingering civil liability. If a person commits damage to another persons property or person during an arson event, then the individuals might seek monetary compensation for the damages incurred. Any criminal conviction for the arson offense can serve as evidence of liability in a subsequent civil trial. Accordingly, defendants should vigorously defend against any arson charges.
Hudson County NJ Criminal Attorneys
For assistance with your pending arson charges, reach out to an experienced attorney at the Law Office of Jonathan F. Marshall in Jersey City. With eight criminal defense attorneys on staff, our office is one of the largest criminal defense firms in the State of New Jersey, let alone Hudson County. If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense in Hudson County, we can help. For a free initial consultation, please contact our Jersey City office directly at (201) 309-1800.