Pennsylvania Arson Laws

There are many reasons that a fire can start, ranging from a natural disaster to a controlled burn that gets out of hand. However, if a person starts a fire intentionally, he or she may be committing arson as defined in most states.

Pennsylvania divides arson laws into several different categories, but all require that a person intentionally start a fire or cause an explosion. The categories of arson include:

  • arson endangering persons;
  • arson endangering property;
  • aggravated arson;
  • reckless burning or exploding;
  • arson of historic resource; and
  • dangerous burning.

Charges

Arson endangering persons (First Degree Felony): Intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion, or aiding another to do so, if it:

  • recklessly places another person in danger of death or bodily injury; or
  • is done with the purpose of destroying or damaging another person’s inhabited building or occupied structure.

Aggravated arson (First Degree Felony): Intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion, or aiding someone to do so, while:

  • attempting to cause, or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing, injury to another person; or
  • committing an offense under this section which is graded as a felony when a person is present inside the property.

Arson of historic resource (Second Degree Felony): Intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion on any property, or aiding another to do so, with the purpose of destroying/damaging a historic resource of another.

Arson endangering property (Second Degree Felony): Intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion, or aiding another to do so:

  • with the intent to damage a building or unoccupied structure of another;
  • recklessly placing an inhabited building or occupied structure of another in danger of damage; or
  • with the intent to damage property (including his/her own) to collect insurance.

Reckless burning or exploding (Third Degree Felony): Intentionally starting a fire or causing an explosion, or aiding someone to do so, and recklessly placing another’s uninhabited building, unoccupied structure, car, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat, or other motor-propelled vehicle, or other personal property is valued over $5,000 in danger of damage.

Penalties

Conviction under Pennsylvania arson laws can result in imprisonment and fines. The prison term and fines will depend on the degree of the felony:

  • First degree: up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
  • Second degree: up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
  • Third degree: up to 7 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.

A person convicted of aggravated arson can be sentenced to up to 40 years in prison if:

  • A firefighter, police officer or other person engaged in fighting the fire is injured; or
  • A civilian is seriously injured.
Questions about Pennsylvania Arson Law? Contact Atty. Munley directly at 570-420-0620 or ask him a question by using the form below.