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Criminal Defense - Hamden Arson Lawyer

Charged with Arson? Know What You Are Facing!

The definition of arson is often misconstrued and misunderstood. Arson can take many different forms, including the burning of one’s own property. To be charged with arson you must have intentionally damaged property by burning it or setting it on fire — that property may be public or private, abandoned or occupied. Generally arson is cited in relation to buildings or structured property, but it also includes forestland, parks, and any other type of public property. Typically, the fire(s) are intentional, but arson may alternatively involve reckless, unintentional behavior that results in damaged property by fire.

Regardless of the specific offense that led to the arson charges, you need to team up with a skilled Connecticut criminal lawyer. Dolan Law Firm can help you create a hard-hitting defense and fight to avoid serious penalties.


Sentencing for Arson

(a) A person is guilty of arson in the first degree when they do one or more of the following:

  • intentionally and maliciously start a fire in a residence or other occupied building
  • causes damages that meet or exceed $10,000 in value with intent to collect insurance proceeds
  • cause a fire that is manifestly dangerous to life

A standard punishment for first degree arson is 21-27 months in prison, but it carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and $50,000 in fines. Possession of a deadly weapon or committing another crime during the act will increase one’s sentence.

To determine if the location of the fire was “manifestly dangerous to life,” one takes into consideration the presence of people, combustibility of the area, proximity to other structures, and risk posed to firefighters. The danger of a fire is not only measured by damage done, but also potential for damage.

(b) A person is guilty of arson in the second degree if they intentionally and maliciously starts a fire or explosion that damages a structure, vehicle, or object. Examples include buildings, docks, motor vehicles, airplanes, engines, fences, and timber. Second degree arson committed by someone with no criminal record is often punishable by 3-9 months in prison. However, the maximum sentence for this crime is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Again, a person being armed or committing additional crimes during the act may increase their sentence.

(c) A person is guilty of arson in the third degree when they recklessly destruct or damage a building of their own or of another by intentionally causing or causing another person to damage property by fire or explosion. Arson in the third degree is a class C Felony. It is punishable by a prison term of up to 5 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.


Sentencing for Reckless Burning

(a) A person is guilty of reckless burning in the first degree when they start a fire or cause an explosion, whether on their own property or another’s, and then recklessly allow that fire to damage a building or other piece of property. Reckless burning is different from arson in that the fire or explosion was not started intentionally or maliciously. An example would be lighting a campfire in inappropriate climate conditions, and inadvertently causing a forest fire. However, reckless burning is also different from arson in that no proof of damage is required. Reckless burning is a class C felony and is punishable by a maximum $10,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison. However, once your lawyer is able to prove that the act was reckless burning rather than arson, a standard sentence for someone with no criminal history is 0-60 days in county jail.

(b) A person is guilty of reckless burning in the second degree when they start a fire or cause an explosion which endangers a building or other piece of property, but does not necessarily damage it. No proof of actual damage is required. This offense is considered a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 364 days in county jail.


If you have been accused of arson or reckless burning, you could be facing steep fines and an extensive prison sentence without the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Regardless of the severity of the arson accusation, Michael Dolan is in your corner and will fight aggressively to minimize or eliminate your charges. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and get started on a solid defense!