Hackensack NJ Aggravated Arson Attorney
Aggravated arson is a second (2nd) degree crime indictable (felony) in New Jersey. If convicted of aggravated arson at the Bergen County Superior Court, then an individual may face up to ten (10) years in state prison. The governing statute in New Jersey for aggravated arson is N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a. An aggravated arson charge can occur from various circumstances as you will see below, however, the general theme that runs through each circumstance is that the fire threatened or caused, either death or bodily injury. Our law firm, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, has the experience and knowledge to defend these charges since we have:
- Over two-hundred (200) years of combined experience
- A team of ten (10) criminal defense attorneys that devote their entire practice to criminal law
- Our firm has seven (7) former prosecutors
- Three (3) of our attorneys were former assistant county prosecutors and held directorial positions of the Drug, Gang, and Gun Task Force, Major Crimes Division, Trial Division, Juvenile Division
- Three (3) of our attorneys were former municipal prosecutors in over twenty-five (25) towns
- One (1) of our attorneys is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Criminal Trial Attorney, a distinction held by less than 1% of attorneys in this State
- One (1) of our lawyers was recently selected to Super Lawyers Rising Stars 2020 list for New Jersey which is a highly credentialed, peer-influenced, third-party validated, and a patented process that selects only 2.5% of the attorneys in New Jersey to this list
- Selected to the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and Top 40 Under 40
If you or a loved one has been charged with aggravated arson, arson, burglary trespassing, stalking, aggravated assault in Bergen County, we can help. Our office has extensive experience representing clients charged with arson in courts like Mahwah, Lyndhurst, Paramus, Fair Lawn, Westwood, Saddle Brook and Teaneck. As stated above, the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has over 200 years of combined experience on staff, including seven former prosecutors. We have the experience required to handle this type of severe charge. Please give one of our three offices in Hackensack, Fort Lee or Paramus a call at 201-429-9783, we’re available 24/7.
Aggravated Arson Lawyers in Teaneck NJ: N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a
Material Elements: Before an individual can be convicted of aggravated arson, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office must prove at least three key elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
- For a first (1st) degree crime, the defendant commits one of the following two circumstances
- The defendant directly or indirectly accepts a payment or offers a payment for the purpose of starting a fire or causing an explosion; or
- The defendant violated one of the provisions above or set forth below and the structure was a church, synagogue, temple or other place of public worship.
- For a second (2nd) degree crime, the defendant either started a fireor caused an explosion &
- One of the next five circumstances occurred:
- By causing the fire or explosion the defendant placed another person in danger of death or bodily injury & the defendant committed the said act either purposefully or knowingly; or
- The defendant burned a building or structure & the defendant committed the said act purposefully; or
- The defendant in starting the fire/causing the explosion did so with the purpose of collecting insurance; or
- The defendant in starting the fire/causing the explosion did so with the purpose of “destroying or damaging a structure in order to exempt the structure, completely or partially, from the provisions of any State, county or local zoning, planning or building law, regulation, ordinance or enactment” and in doing so the defendant placed another person in danger of death or bodily injury and that the defendant committed this act recklessly; or
- The defendants starting of the fire/causing the explosion destroyed or damaged a forest & the defendant committed the said act purposefully.
- For a third (3rd) degree crime, the defendant purposely started a fire or caused an explosion &
- One of the next five circumstances occurred:
- The defendant recklessly placed another individual vulnerable to death or bodily injury; or
- The defendant recklessly place another person’s building or structure in danger of damage or destruction; or
- The defendant caused destruction or damage to the property for the purpose of collecting insurance; or
- The defendant with the purposely destroyed or damaged a structure to avoid a State, County, or local municipal zoning, planning/building law, regulation ordinance/enactment; or
- The defendant recklessly placed a forest in danger of damage or destruction.
- For a fourth (4th) degree crime, the defendant knows that a fire is endangering life or other people/businesses’ property and fails to take reasonable measures to put out or control the fire when he/she could do so without putting themselves at risk or attempted to give prompt fire alarm &
- One of the next two circumstances occurred
- The defendant knows that he/she is under an official, contractual, or other legal duty to prevent or stop the fire; or
- The defendant or another legally started the fire, or on his/her property.
Grading & Applicable Penalties if Convicted:
As stated above, aggravated arson is a crime of the second degree (felony). However, depending on the circumstances, it can be a crime of the first degree. Below are the applicable penalties if you or a loved one is convicted of aggravated arson:
- First (1st) degree Aggravated Arson
- Up to twenty (20) years in state prison and up to $200,000 in fines.
- If convicted when the structure was a place of worship, then a minimum of fifteen (15) years in state prison.
- Second (2nd) degree Aggravated Arson
- Up to ten (10) years in state prison and up to $150,000 in fines.
- Third (3rd) degree Aggravated Arson
- Up to five (5) years in state prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
- Fourth (4th) degree Aggravated Arson
- Up to eighteen (18) months in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Please keep in mind that an aggravated arson falls under the No Early Release Act (“N.E.R.A.”), which requires the defendant to serve at least 85% of their sentence before they can become eligible for parole.
A common defense to an arson charge is that the Defendant committed the “arson” while they were intoxicated. Intoxication can be a defense under the New Jersey Criminal Code if the culpability required under the statute is “purposeful conduct”. If the defense is able to prove that the defendant was intoxicated at the time of setting the said fire or causing the explosion, the state will be unable to obtain a conviction for aggravated arson under any of the sections that require “purposeful conduct”.
Fort Lee NJ Aggravated Arson Attorneys
As you can tell from above, a conviction for an aggravated arson charge can have devastating effects on not only your life but on your loved ones as well. If you or someone you know has been charged with aggravated arson, we can help. If you have any further questions with regards to the offense of arson or aggravated arson please contact any one of our Bergen County offices in Hackensack, Fort Lee, or Paramus for a free initial consultation at 201-429-9783, we’re available 24/7.