18 Pa.C.S.A. §3301.  Arson and related offenses.

(a)  Arson endangering persons.–

(1)  A person commits a felony of the first degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, whether on his own property or on that of another, and if:arson

(i)  he thereby recklessly places another person in danger of death or bodily injury, including but not limited to a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire; or

(ii)  he commits the act with the purpose of destroying or damaging an inhabited building or occupied structure of another.

(2)  A person who commits arson endangering persons is guilty of murder of the second degree if the fire or explosion causes the death of any person, including but not limited to a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire, and is guilty of murder of the first degree if the fire or explosion causes the death of any person and was set with the purpose of causing the death of another person.

(a.1)  Aggravated arson.–

(1)  A person commits a felony of the first degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, whether on his own property or on that of another, and if:

(i)  he thereby attempts to cause, or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, including, but not limited to, a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire; or

(ii)  he commits an offense under this section which is graded as a felony when a person is present inside the property at the time of the offense.

(2)  A person who commits aggravated arson is guilty of murder of the second degree if the fire or explosion causes the death of any person, including, but not limited to, a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire.

(a.2)  Arson of historic resource.–A person commits a felony of the second degree if the person, with the intent of destroying or damaging a historic resource of another, does any of the following:

(1)  Intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on the person’s own property or that of another.

(2)  Aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion.

(b)  Sentence.–

(1)  A person convicted of violating the provisions of subsection (a)(2), murder of the first degree, shall be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without right to parole; a person convicted of murder of the second degree, pursuant to subsection (a)(2), shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without right to parole. Notwithstanding provisions to the contrary, no language herein shall infringe upon the inherent powers of the Governor to commute said sentence.

(2)  A person convicted under subsection (a.1) may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which shall be fixed by the court at not more than 40 years if:

(i)  bodily injury results to a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire; or

(ii)  serious bodily injury results to a civilian.

(c)  Arson endangering property.–A person commits a felony of the second degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on his own property or that of another, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, and if:

(1)  he commits the act with intent of destroying or damaging a building or unoccupied structure of another;

(2)  he thereby recklessly places an inhabited building or occupied structure of another in danger of damage or destruction; or

(3)  he commits the act with intent of destroying or damaging any property, whether his own or of another, to collect insurance for such loss.

Basically, arson is when a person intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion or even if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another, to cause a fire or explosion even if it’s his own property.  Even the smallest of fires can carry arson charges.

The crime of arson is often investigated when insurance companies are asked to pay out under the terms of an insurance policy when there is significant damage due to a fire.  Pennsylvania State Police arson investigators or Fire Marshals are highly trained and are often able to determine if the cause of a fire was accidental or intentional.  When investigating a suspicious fire, law enforcement will often consider a potential suspect’s motive (financial or personal).  Suspects with serious financial issue will be looked at closely where an insurance claim is made.  Alibis are also closely examined.

A person charged with arson will be best served whenever possible, by hiring his or her own arson investigator through his or her attorney to attempt to determine the cause of the fire and to identify any weaknesses of the prosecution’s case.

Sometimes during plea negotiations, the felony charge of arson can be pleaded down to the misdemeanor charge of recklessly endangering another person.  This avoids a felony conviction and possibly incarceration.

Arson Defense Attorney Harrisburg PA

If you are charged with or being investigated for the crime of arson, call or email us and we will be happy to review your case.