The criminalization of this act is found in 18 Pa.C.S. §3301 and is defined as follows:

"Arson" is the intentional starting of a fire or explosion of a structure or property. It may even be your own property. Engaging in any type of fire-starting may also lead to additional charges, such as murder, if a death results or causing or risking a catastrophe. Especially, where others, such as police or fire personnel are placed in danger.

Possible Defenses To Arson

If the fire was a result of an accident, then the defendant cannot be convicted of felony arson. In fact, if we can establish that the fire was the result of an accident then this can result in our client being acquitted or the charges dismissed.

If it can be shown that the fire was started "accidentally" then in order for the accused to be found guilty of misdemeanor arson the prosecution must show each of the following:

  1. That the accused was aware that his or her actions presented a substantial and unjustifiable risk of causing a fire;
  2. That the defendant ignored that risk; and
  3. That ignoring the risk was a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would have done in the same situation.

Intoxication Is Not A Defense To Arson

Arson is a general intent crime. Therefore, voluntary intoxication is not a legal defense to arson. In fact, the law emphasizes a strong relationship between alcohol intoxication and arson, and it would be anomalous to allow evidence of intoxication to relieve a person of responsibility for this crime. However, involuntary intoxication is a legal defense to this crime, and the defendant may be allowed to offer such evidence to negate the element of intent.

Contact Our Firm

Speak to experienced defense attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini if you are facing arson charges by calling 717-827-4074. You may also contact our firm online.