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Under state law, what counts as arson?

There are a number of serious criminal offenses in New York. Amongst these are crimes against property. Although vandalism and theft can be treated aggressively by prosecutors, these offenses can also be minor in comparison to some other property crimes, like arson. With a wide spectrum of severity when it comes to these offenses and their corresponding penalties, accused individuals need to ensure that they know the laws they are up against and how to use it to their advantage.

In New York, arson is defined as the intentional act of causing damage to a building or vehicle with the use of fire. Just with other crimes, arson also has a spectrum of severity. For example, arson in the first degree occurs when the above-mentioned act causes harm to an individual, is perpetrated by an incendiary device or is made with the expectation of financial gain. Arson in the third degree, on the other hand, occurs when mere damage is caused by one’s intentional setting of a fire.

A conviction for arson can leave an individual facing serious penalties, including years of prison, tens of thousands of dollars in fines and a criminal record that can haunt for a lifetime. With so much on the line, those accused of this crime need to make sure they put forth the best criminal defense possible. A competent attorney may be able to put forth evidence drawing into question whether the act in question was intentional.

Of course, building a strong criminal defense case requires knowledge of the law and how to use the rules of evidence to one’s advantage. No criminal case is the same, though, so those accused of a serious offense like arson should be sure to choose an attorney who can provide one with the individualized case preparation they need and deserve.

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James L. Riotto
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James L. Riotto is an accomplished criminal defense attorney serving clients in New York. With an extensive background in law enforcement and criminal prosecution, his approach to each case is unique and informed by years of experience with the New York criminal justice system. As a graduate from Albany Law School and before going on to start his own practice, James worked at the Albany County District Attorney's Office, where he helped prosecute many DWI offenses. His inside knowledge of the tactics used to gain convictions provides him with a particular advantage when defending against DUI and other criminal charges.

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