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Do you have to start a fire to face New Jersey arson charges?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Accusations of arson are quite concerning. They can lead to complications for insurance claims after you lose property and also potentially to prosecution. If law enforcement officers think that you committed arson, you could face arrest for your involvement with a fire. 

Most people understand that intentionally starting a fire constitutes arson. Causing an explosion can also lead to arson charges. Could you potentially face arson charges in New Jersey if you didn’t start a fire or intentionally cause an explosion?

New Jersey requires people to report potentially dangerous fires

If a fire broke out at your house and you decided not to call for emergency services because you would rather file an insurance claim to rebuild your house, that could be a criminal act. 

You have an obligation to report a fire that in a timely manner so that professionals can try to prevent it from destroying the building or spreading elsewhere. Ignoring a fire that could destroy your property might lead to criminal charges. Those would not be arson charges, but you would still face allegations of a crime in the fourth degree. 

Also, the state might prosecute anyone who adds an accelerant to a fire that started for reasons outside of their control. If you worsen or spread of fire on purpose, you might face the same penalties that would apply if you started the fire. 

Of course, there are many ways that the police could make incorrect assumptions about your involvement in a fire, including having certain accelerants in your home for perfectly innocent reasons. Understanding that the state may aggressively prosecute any suspicious fires is important for anyone accused of a fire-related offense. Remember: There are defenses available, no matter what your situation.