N.J. S.A. 2C:17-1(a), the crime of aggravated arson is a classified as a second degree crime (state prison sentence of 5
to 10 years) if the actor starts a fire, on his own property or of another’s, or causes an explosion
under the following circumstances.
1. Knowingly placing another person in danger of death or bodily injury; or
2. With purpose of destroying a building of another; or
3. With the purpose of collecting insurance, which recklessly places any other person in danger or death or bodily injury; or
4. With the purpose of exempting the structure from any provision of any State, county or local zoning building law, regulation or ordinance, which, which recklessly places any other person in danger or death or bodily injury; or
5. With the purpose of destroying or damaging any forest.
It should be noted that with the crime of arson the actor can also be charged with attempt to commit arson (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1), or conspiracy (N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2) to commit arson if the actor attempts to engage in any conduct prohibited in N.J. S.A. 2C:17-1(a), even if he or she does not succeed.
Likewise, an actor who sets a fire or explosion that causes death be guilty of felony murder, a first degree crime (10 to 20 years state prison sentence). Felony murder with arson could occur when the actor puts someone on fire or a structure in which someone dies, including a firefighter.
With all arson offenses the crime of arson is a serious offense and under the NERA laws (no early release act) pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2 any person convicted or pleas to aggravated arson must serve 85% of his or her sentence before he or she eligible for parole.
As for results Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., achieved exceptional results for a client who was charged with aggravated arson and theft by deception in Essex County. In that case it was alleged that the client set fire to his BMW for insurance proceedings. After the third trial date and come and passed, the client was offered and accepted into the pretrial intervention program. The client based on attorney advised did not accept the State’s last offer of probation because of the immigration consequences of automatic deportation if the client had pleaded even to a reduced probationary sentence. In this case after the client completes his one-year PTI program all charges will dismissed.