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How Can Arson Charges Be Defended in Court?

If you were arrested for arson charges in New Jersey, you may be considering your defense options. Arson is a serious violent crime and can result in a plethora of penalties and consequences if convicted. It’s imperative that you contact and work with a Bergen County violent crimes attorney to determine and utilize the best defense option for you.

Is Arson a Felony in New Jersey?

There are multiple degrees of arson recognized by New Jersey state law, the highest of which are considered felonies, also known as indictable crimes. Second-degree arson, referred to as aggravated arson, is punishable by a prison sentence of 5 to 10 years. First-degree arson can be accompanied by a prison sentence of 10 to 20 years. Any degree of arson will also result in hefty fines and a criminal record.

First and second-degree arson convictions fall under the NERA (No Early Release Act) of New Jersey. Because of this act, people with convictions of a first or second-degree crime of this severity are required to serve at minimum 85% of their sentence before they can be considered eligible for parole.

What Are My Defense Options for Arson?

To be convicted of arson the prosecution holds the burden of proof, meaning that you do not have to prove that you are innocent, they are responsible for proving that you are guilty. To prove that arson took place a court has to determine that you were responsible for a fire that was started with the malicious intent of causing damage or injury.

To defend against an arson charge you will need a fire investigator to examine the evidence and crime scene. They can determine how the fire was started and hopefully find evidence that you did not cause the fire.

You can also provide an alibi if applicable. If you were not at the scene when the fire was started and you can obtain proof such as photographic evidence and eyewitness testimony, it can cast a shadow of reasonable doubt.

You may also have been a victim of entrapment if a government agent pushed you to commit the crime. You will have to provide solid evidence.

Duress is also a valid defense sometimes employed in arson cases. If you can prove that someone coerced you into committing arson by threatening violence or bodily harm, it could be an effective defense strategy.

Should I Hire a Lawyer?

Hiring a lawyer should be your first step after being arrested or charged with arson. An attorney will have worked on similar cases to yours and understand how best to utilize your defense options. They will evaluate the details of your case, work with you to formulate your defense, and defend you in court to the best of their ability. They have the experience and knowledge of the law to advocate for a dismissal or reduction of your charges and sentencing.

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