What Are the Penalties for Arson in New Jersey?

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In the Garden State, arson is a very serious crime that causes not only property damage but also endangers people’s lives. For more information on the penalties for arson in New Jersey, please continue reading, then contact an experienced Mercer County violent crime lawyer today.

What are the degrees of arson in New Jersey?

You should know that the Garden State classifies arson as a “violent crime,” so the penalties for sustaining an arson conviction can be quite severe. That being said, New Jersey recognizes four degrees of arson. The degrees are broken down and defined as follows:

  • Arson in the first degree: Arson for hire or targeting a house of worship.
  • Second-degree arson/Aggravated arson: An individual starts a fire or causes an explosion and the individual:
    • Purposely or knowingly placed another person in danger of death or bodily injury
    • Acted with the purpose of destroying another person’s building or structure
    • Acted with the purpose of collecting insurance for the destruction/damage to such property while endangering another person
    • Destructed or damaged property to exempt it from any state, county, local planning or zoning law regulation, ordinance or enactment
    • Purposely acted to destroy or damage any forest
  • Arson in the third degree: When an individual purposely started a fire or caused an explosion that recklessly endangered a building or a person.
  • Arson in the fourth degree: When an individual has a contractual or legal duty to prevent a fire and knows that a fire is endangering life or property, but fails to extinguish the fire or warn others.

What are the consequences of an arson conviction in New Jersey?

Your potential penalties will vary based on the degree of the arson, but possible penalties include incarceration, fines and liability for the costs associated with emergency service personnel dispatched to respond to the fire. They are as follows:

  • First-degree arson: Punishable by a prison sentence ranging from ten to twenty years; if it involves a place of worship, the penalty is fifteen years without the possibility of parole.
  • Second-degree arson/Aggravated arson: Punishable by a prison term ranging from five to ten years; aggravated arson is subject to the No Early Release Act, which requires convicts to serve a minimum term of eighty-five percent of their sentence.
  • Third-degree arson: Punishable by a prison term of five years.
  • Fourth-degree arson: Punishable by eighteen months in prison.

Regardless of the severity of your alleged act or the charges against you, you should strongly consider retaining the services of a skilled Mercer County criminal defense lawyer today. Together, you can assess your case and weigh each of your legal options, so please do not hesitate to give us a call today.


If you face a criminal matter, contact The Law Office of Douglas Herring to schedule your initial consultation.

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