What is the Law on Arson in New Jersey and What are the Punishments for it?
Anyone that purposefully sets fire or causes an explosion will be charged with arson in the state of New Jersey. Arson is considered a very serious crime because it causes damage to property, and at the same time, it also puts at risk people's lives. Thus, it does not come as any big surprise to learn that New Jersey has enacted some pretty tough laws on arson and the punishment meted out is also very severe.
The state of New Jersey recognizes arson as a serious offense and has four different degrees of severity. The most serious type of arson is the first-degree arson. If convicted for this, you can face imprisonment for up to twenty years.
First-degree arson in New Jersey
First-degree arson is any arson in which the culprit has been hired to set fire to defraud insurance companies. If the arsonist targets a church or mosque or synagogue or any house of worship, they will be charged with arson.
In first-degree arson, a person is hired to set fire or has targeted a house of worship. A person convicted of first-degree arson will be punished with a prison term that can vary from ten to twenty years. If the person set a house of worship on fire, then the penalty would be 15 years in jail without parole.
Aggravated arson in New Jersey
There are also instances of arson in which people are injured or killed. Thus, the state has set apart a special category of arson which it calls aggravated arson. This is a severe case of arson and it is called second-degree arson.
Second-degree arson in New Jersey
In second-degree arson, the person set fire or caused an explosion to a structure that either they owned or which was owned by someone else and where the following occurred:
- Intentionally placed another person’s life in danger or caused bodily harm or death, or
- Acted intentionally to collect insurance for the damage or destruction of property, or
- Intentionally tried to destroy someone’s property, or
- Intentionally destroyed or damaged a structure to avoid state or local planning or zoning law regulations, or
- Intentionally set fire to destroy or damage a forest.
Second-degree arson or aggravated arson are dealt with severely by New Jersey arson laws. The minimum prison sentence for this crime is jail time of between five and ten years. For those convicted of aggravated arson, there is a No Early Release Act and such person on conviction will have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence imposed on them by the court.
Third-degree arson in New Jersey
If a person acts recklessly and causes a fire intending to harm or destroy any structure, they will be charged with third-degree arson. In third-degree arson, the person intentionally started a fire or caused an explosion to put the lives of others in danger through their reckless actions.
Third-degree arson will be punished severely and at the very least, the culprit will have to spend five years in prison.
Fourth-degree arson in New Jersey
Fourth-degree arson is arson in which a person in his or her official capacity was duty bound to prevent the fire and who did not do his or her duty and failed to prevent the fire. For fourth-degree arson, the convict will have to spend 18 months in prison.
Punishments for arson in New Jersey in New Jersey
The quantum and severity of punishment for committing acts of arson in New Jersey vary according to the circumstances in the case. In most cases, the culprit will be imprisoned and will also be liable to pay costs incurred for emergency service personnel sent to respond to the arson attack. The state laws will vary when new legislation is passed and based on new rulings by a higher court.