If you have been charged with arson or other property crime, such as vandalism, damaging someone’s property or even trespassing, you face severe penalties under Pennsylvania laws, if convicted.
What may have been a complete accident or even a silly shenanigan could put you in jail or prison. You could have a permanent criminal record and be forced to pay for the damaged property value and other fines.
Even for a mere summary offense of criminal mischief, you could be sentenced to up to 90 days in jail. For a more serious arson crime where someone was injured or killed, a person could face aggravated assault or homicide charges.
Being accused of a crime is a stressful situation for anyone. But the important thing to remember is that unless you are convicted of a crime, you are innocent.
You can fight the charges to have them dropped or reduced in order to minimize sentencing. No case is ever impossible.
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As soon as you have been charged with a property crime, you should talk to an experienced and aggressive Pittsburgh Criminal Attorney to learn more about what options you have to fight the charges and the penalties you face.
Attorney Christopher Thomas offers free consultations.
At SMT Legal, our sole aim is to get your property crime charges reduced or withdrawn. We are aggressive attorneys with a comprehensive approach to defending our clients’ rights.
The penalties for a vandalism conviction in Pennsylvania depend on the value of the property destroyed.
Unless agricultural or institutional vandalism is committed, other types of vandalism are usually referred to as “criminal mischief”.
Pennsylvania Code Title 18 3304 defines criminal mischief as:
If you were charged with vandalizing a school, church, place of worship or government building, you face more serious charges, especially as an adult.
For property damage less than $5,000 in value, it is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to two years in prison.
For over $5,000 in value, a person faces third degree felony charges and up to seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
There are several classifications of arson offenses in Pennsylvania. Arson can include causing an explosion as well as starting a fire. The penalties for an arson conviction are typically quite severe.
Oftentimes in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania, arson charges may be brought against someone suspected of insurance fraud. A conviction of arson endangering property is a second degree felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
It is also a second degree felony to commit arson on an unoccupied structure or endangering nearby inhabited businesses.
If you were charged with intentionally or recklessly starting a fire that endangers person or property without any actual damage or bodily injury, you still could face summary offense charges in PA and up to 90 days in jail.
If a fire is set or an explosion occurs intentionally that endangers the life of a person, it is considered a first degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Both U.S. federal and Pennsylvania state prosecutors may file charges.
If a fire or explosion causes death, regardless of intent, a person can be convicted of murder in the second degree. This is a mandatory life in prison sentence without parole.
If you are charged with manufacturing or transporting explosives or explosive devices, you face a third degree felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
You can read more about arson charges in PA as described under The Pennsylvania Criminal Code Title 18, Chapter 33.
HOW SMT Legal CAN HELP
When your future and your freedom are on the line, you need an excellent attorney to work aggressively to defend your rights.
Pittsburgh Criminal Attorney Christopher Thomas is skilled and experienced at winning property crime cases and fighting for charges to be reduced or dropped altogether. Contact him today for a FREE CONSULTATION.
At SMT Legal, we are compassionate and want to make a positive difference in the lives of our clients. We understand the Pennsylvania legal system and will resourcefully gather and examine evidence to build a strong legal strategy to defend your rights.
Our aggressive and compassionate attorneys are here to guide you through a difficult time.