Understanding Arson Charges in Pittsburgh


If you have been charged with arson or other property crimes, such as damaging someone’s property or even trespassing, you face severe penalties under Pennsylvania laws, if convicted.

What may have been a complete accident or even a silly shenanigan could put you in jail or prison. You could have a permanent criminal record and be forced to pay fines or for the damaged property.

Even for a mere summary offense of criminal mischief, you could be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail. For a more serious arson crime where someone was injured or killed, a person could face aggravated assault or homicide charges.

Penalties for Arson in Pennsylvania

There are several classifications of arson offenses in Pennsylvania. Arson can include causing an explosion as well as starting a fire. The penalties for an arson conviction are typically quite severe.

Second Degree Arson Charge

Oftentimes in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, arson charges may be brought against someone suspected of insurance fraud. A conviction of arson endangering property is a second degree felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

It is also a second degree felony to commit arson on an unoccupied structure or endangering nearby inhabited businesses.

If you were charged with intentionally or recklessly starting a fire that endangers person or property without any actual damage or bodily injury, you still could face summary offense charges in Pennsylvania and up to 90 days in jail.

First Degree Felony Charge for Arson

If a fire is set or an explosion occurs intentionally that endangers the life of a person, it is considered a first degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Both U.S. federal and Pennsylvania state prosecutors may file charges.

If a fire or explosion causes death, regardless of intent, a person can be convicted of murder in the second degree. This is a mandatory life in prison sentence without parole.

If you are charged with manufacturing or transporting explosives or explosive devices, you face a third degree felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Pittsburgh Arson Attorneys

When your future and your freedom are on the line, you need an excellent attorney to work aggressively to defend your rights. Contact the Pittsburgh arson attorneys at SMT Legal to find out your options.

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