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NY Penal Law § 150.10: Arson in the Third Degree

June 29, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Arson is the criminal offense by which one intentionally damages property by the use of fire or explosives. The most common target that is damaged by arson are buildings.  Nonetheless, the property damaged by arson can also be motor vehicles or watercraft. Under New York Penal Law § 150.10, arson in the third degree entails intentionally damaging or destroying the property of another person without the consent of the owner by intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion. For the purposes of this statute, the term “building” encompasses any structure, vehicle or watercraft that is used for overnight lodging or for carrying on a business.

For Example

Rahman is under threat of significant business losses. Unable to come up with solutions on how to improve his business’s financial picture, Rahman decides to set fire to the business’s offices and collect the insurance money. Among other criminal charges, Rahman could face the charge of arson in the third degree due to the fact that he intentionally damaged a building with fire. Even though Rahman was the owner of the building, he did not burn it for a lawful reason.  His reason for setting it on fire was to commit insurance fraud.

Offenses that are Related

Arson in the fifth degree: New York Penal Law § 150.01

Arson in the fourth degree: New York Penal Law § 150.05

Arson in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 150.15

Arson in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 150.20

Possible Defenses

A possible defense against a charge of arson in the third degree is that you did not intentionally set a fire, rather you lit it by accident. If the fire was truly an accident, then the prosecutor will have a hard time convicting you of arson in the third degree.

A possible alternative defense would be to demonstrate that you are the sole owner of the building and that you set the fire or caused an explosion for a lawful purpose as permitted under New York Penal Law § 150.10(2)(b).

The Sentence

Due to the fact that arson in the third degree is categorized as a class C felony, the maximum sentence you could face for this crime  is 15 years in prison.  There is a minimum sentence of 1 year for this offense. On top of that, the judge may additionally order you to pay a fine to the court and also pay monetary restitution to the victim.



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