Arson Endangering Persons in PA

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The Pennsylvania Statute Governing Arson Endangering Persons in Pennsylvania.

Our criminal defense attorneys will examine your case and give you a full explanation of the penalties you may be facing. Below you will find the actual text of the Pennsylvania statute governing Arson Endangering Persons charges (current as of July 2010). Our law firm is in the business of fighting for defendants’ rights. You should talk to a lawyer for legal advice to fully learn your rights in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties.

18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301. Arson and related offenses

(a) ARSON ENDANGERING PERSONS. —

(1) A person commits a felony of the first degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, whether on his own property or on that of another, and if:

(i) he thereby recklessly places another person in danger of death or bodily injury, including but not limited to a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire; or

(ii) he commits the act with the purpose of destroying or damaging an inhabited building or occupied structure of another.

(2) A person who commits arson endangering persons is guilty of murder of the second degree if the fire or explosion causes the death of any person, including but not limited to a firefighter, police officer or other person actively engaged in fighting the fire, and is guilty of murder of the first degree if the fire or explosion causes the death of any person and was set with the purpose of causing the death of another person.

(b) SENTENCE. –A person convicted of violating the provisions of subsection (a)(2), murder of the first degree, shall be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without right to parole; a person convicted of murder of the second degree, pursuant to subsection (a)(2), shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without right to parole. Notwithstanding provisions to the contrary, no language herein shall infringe upon the inherent powers of the Governor to commute said sentence.

(c) ARSON ENDANGERING PROPERTY. –A person commits a felony of the second degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on his own property or that of another, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, and if:

(1) he commits the act with intent of destroying or damaging a building or unoccupied structure of another;

(2) he thereby recklessly places an inhabited building or occupied structure of another in danger of damage or destruction; or

(3) he commits the act with intent of destroying or damaging any property, whether his own or of another, to collect insurance for such loss.

(d) RECKLESS BURNING OR EXPLODING.– A person commits a felony of the third degree if he intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion, or if he aids, counsels, pays or agrees to pay another to cause a fire or explosion, whether on his own property or on that of another, and thereby recklessly:

(1) places an uninhabited building or unoccupied structure of another in danger of damage or destruction; or

(2) places any personal property of another having a value that exceeds $ 5,000 or if the property is an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat or other motor-propelled vehicle in danger of damage or destruction.

(D.1) DANGEROUS BURNING.– A person commits a summary offense if he intentionally or recklessly starts a fire to endanger any person or property of another whether or not any damage to person or property actually occurs.

(e) FAILURE TO CONTROL OR REPORT DANGEROUS FIRES. –A person who knows that a fire is endangering the life or property of another and fails to take reasonable measures to put out or control the fire, when he can do so without substantial risk to himself, or to give a prompt fire alarm, commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if:

(1) he knows that he is under an official, contractual or other legal duty to control or combat the fire; or

(2) the fire was started, albeit lawfully, by him or with his assent, or on property in his custody or control.

(f) POSSESSION OF EXPLOSIVE OR INCENDIARY MATERIALS OR DEVICES. –A person commits a felony of the third degree if he possesses, manufactures or transports any incendiary or explosive material with the intent to use or to provide such device or material to commit any offense described in subsection (a), (c) or (d).

(g) DISCLOSURE OF TRUE OWNER. –Law enforcement officers investigating an offense under this section may require a trustee of a passive trust or trust involving an undisclosed principal or straw party to disclose the actual owner or beneficiary of the real property in question. The name of the actual owner or beneficiary of real estate subject to a passive trust, trust involving an undisclosed principal or arrangement with a straw party when obtained under the provisions of this subsection shall not be disclosed except as an official part of an investigation and prosecution of an offense under this section. A person who refuses to disclose a name as required by this section or who discloses a name in violation of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(h) LIMITATIONS ON LIABILITY.– The provisions of subsections (a), (b), (c), (d), (d.1) and (e) shall not be construed to establish criminal liability upon any volunteer or paid firefighter or volunteer or paid firefighting company or association if said company or association endangers a participating firefighter or real or personal property in the course of an approved, controlled fire training program or fire evolution, provided that said company or association has complied with the following:

(1) a sworn statement from the owner of any real or personal property involved in such program or evolution that there is no fire insurance policy or no lien or encumbrance exists which applies to such real or personal property;

(2) approval or permits from the appropriate local government or State officials, if necessary, to conduct such program or exercise have been received;

(3) precautions have been taken so that the program or evolution does not affect any other persons or real or personal property; and

(4) participation of firefighters in the program or exercise if voluntary.

(H.1) PROHIBITION ON CERTAIN SERVICE.– A person convicted of violating this section or any similar offense under Federal or State law shall be prohibited from serving as a firefighter in this Commonwealth and shall be prohibited from being certified as a firefighter under section 4 of the act of November 13, 1995 (P.L. 604, No. 61), known as the State Fire Commissioner Act. Proof of nonconviction must consist of either of the following:

(1) An official criminal history record check obtained pursuant to Chapter 91 (relating to criminal history record information) indicating no arson convictions.

(2) A dated and signed statement by the person swearing to the following:

I have never been convicted of an offense that constitutes the crime of “arson and related offenses” under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3301 or any similar offense under any Federal or State law. I hereby certify that the statements contained herein are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. I understand that if I knowingly make any false statement herein, I am subject to penalties prescribed by law, including, but not limited to, a fine of at least $ 1,000.

(i) DEFENSES.– It is a defense to prosecution under subsections (c), (d) and (d.1) where a person is charged with destroying a vehicle, lawful title to which is vested in him, if the vehicle is free of any encumbrances, there is no insurance covering loss by fire or explosion or both on the vehicle and the person delivers to the nearest State Police station at least 48 hours in advance of the planned destruction a written sworn statement certifying that the person is the lawful titleholder, that the vehicle is free of any encumbrances and that there is no insurance covering loss by fire or explosion or both on the vehicle.

(j) DEFINITIONS. –As used in this section the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“OCCUPIED STRUCTURE.” Any structure, vehicle or place adapted for overnight accommodation of persons or for carrying on business therein, whether or not a person is actually present. If a building or structure is divided into separately occupied units, any unit not occupied by the actor is an occupied structure of another.

“PROPERTY OF ANOTHER.” A building or other property, whether real or personal, in which a person other than the actor has an interest which the actor has no authority to defeat or impair, even though the actor may also have an interest in the building or property.

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