Kenneth Vercammen is a Middlesex County trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on Criminal Law and litigation topics. He was awarded the NJ State State Bar Municipal Court Practitioner of the Year. He lectures and handles criminal cases, Municipal Court, DWI, traffic and other litigation matters. He is Co Chair of the ABA Criminal Law Committee, GP and was a speaker at the ABA Annual Meeting. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us or New clients email us evenings and weekends go to www.njlaws.com/ContactKenV.htm

Kenneth Vercammen & Associates, P.C,

2053 Woodbridge Avenue,

Edison, NJ 08817,

(732) 572-0500,

www.njlaws.com

Monday, December 26, 2011

NJSA 2C:17-1 Arson and Related Offenses

NJSA 2C:17-1 Arson and Related Offenses

Kenneth Vercammen's Law office represents individuals charged with criminal and serious traffic violations throughout New Jersey.

Arson and related offenses 2C:17-1.

a. Aggravated arson. A person is guilty of aggravated arson, a crime of the second degree, if he starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on his own property or another's:

(1) Thereby purposely or knowingly placing another person in danger of death or bodily injury; or

(2) With the purpose of destroying a building or structure of another; or

(3) With the purpose of collecting insurance for the destruction or damage to such property under circumstances which recklessly place any other person in danger of death or bodily injury; or

(4) With the purpose of destroying or damaging a structure in order to exempt the structure, completely or partially, from the provisions of any State, county or local zoning, planning or building law, regulation, ordinance or enactment under circumstances which recklessly place any other person in danger of death or bodily injury; or

(5) With the purpose of destroying or damaging any forest.

b. Arson. A person is guilty of arson, a crime of the third degree, if he purposely starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on his own property or another's:

(1) Thereby recklessly placing another person in danger of death or bodily injury; or

(2) Thereby recklessly placing a building or structure of another in danger of damage or destruction; or

(3) With the purpose of collecting insurance for the destruction or damage to such property; or

(4) With the purpose of destroying or damaging a structure in order to exempt the structure, completely or partially, from the provisions of any State, county or local zoning, planning or building law, regulation, ordinance or enactment; or

(5) Thereby recklessly placing a forest in danger of damage or destruction.

c. Failure to control or report dangerous fire. A person who knows that a fire is endangering life or a substantial amount of property of another and either 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 prompt fire alarm, commits a crime of the fourth degree if:

(1) He knows that he is under an official, contractual, or other legal duty to prevent 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.

d. Any person who, directly or indirectly, pays or accepts or offers to pay or accept any form of consideration including, but not limited to, money or any other pecuniary benefit, regardless of whether any consideration is actually exchanged for the purpose of starting a fire or causing an explosion in violation of this section commits a crime of the first degree.

e. Notwithstanding the provisions of any section of this Title to the contrary, if a person is convicted of aggravated arson pursuant to the provisions of subsection a. of this section and the structure which was the target of the offense was a health care facility or a physician's office, the sentence imposed shall include a term of imprisonment. The court may not suspend or make any other non custodial disposition of a person sentenced pursuant to the provisions of this subsection.

f. Definitions. "Structure" is defined in section 2C:18-1. Property is that of another, for the purpose of this section, if any one other than the actor has a possessory, or legal or equitable proprietary interest therein. Property is that of another for the purpose of this section, if anyone other than the actor has a legal or equitable interest in the property including, but not limited to, a mortgage, pledge, lien or security interest therein. If a building or structure is divided into separately occupied units, any unit not occupied by the actor is an occupied structure of another. As used in this section, "forest" means and includes any forest, brush land, grass land, salt marsh, wooded area and any combination thereof, including but not limited to, an open space area, public lands, wetlands, park lands, natural habitats, a State conservation area, a wildlife refuge area or any other designated undeveloped open space whether or not it is subject to specific protection under law.

As used in this section, "health care facility" means health care facility as defined in section 2 of P.L. 1971, c.136 (C. 26:2H-2).

g. Notwithstanding the provisions of any section of this Title to the contrary, if a person is convicted pursuant to the provisions of subsection a., b. or d. of this section and the structure which was the target of the offense was a church, synagogue, temple or other place of public worship, that person commits a crime of the first degree and the sentence imposed shall include a term of imprisonment. The term of imprisonment shall include a minimum term of 15 years, during which the defendant shall be ineligible for parole. The court may not suspend or make any other non custodial disposition of a person sentenced pursuant to the provisions of this subsection.

Amended 1979, c.178, s.29; 1981, c.290, s.16; 1991, c.498; 1997, c.108; 1997, c.109.

2C:17-2. Causing or Risking Widespread Injury or Damage.

a. (1) A person who, purposely or knowingly, unlawfully causes an explosion, flood, avalanche, collapse of a building, release or abandonment of poison gas, radioactive material or any other harmful or destructive substance commits a crime of the second degree. A person who, purposely or knowingly, unlawfully causes widespread injury or damage in any manner commits a crime of the second degree.

(2)A person who, purposely or knowingly, unlawfully causes a hazardous discharge required to be reported pursuant to the "Spill Compensation and Control Act," P.L. 1976, c.141 (C.58:10-23.11 et seq.) or any rules and regulations adopted pursuant thereto, or who, purposely or knowingly, unlawfully causes a release or abandonment of hazardous waste as defined in section 1 of P.L. 1976, c.99 (C. 13:1E-38) or a toxic pollutant as defined in section 3 of P.L. 1977, c.74 (C. 58:10A-3) commits a crime of the second degree. Any person who recklessly violates the provisions of this paragraph is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

b. A person who recklessly causes widespread injury or damage is guilty of a crime of the third degree.

c. A person who recklessly creates a risk of widespread injury or damage commits a crime of the fourth degree, even if no such injury or damage occurs. A violation of this subsection is a crime of the third degree if the risk of widespread injury or damage results from the reckless handling or storage of hazardous materials. A violation of this subsection is a crime of the second degree if the handling or storage of hazardous materials violated any law, rule or regulation intended to protect the public health and safety.

d. A person who knowingly or recklessly fails to take reasonable measures to prevent or mitigate widespread injury or damage commits a crime of the fourth degree, if:

(1)He knows that he is under an official, contractual or other legal duty to take such measures; or

(2)He did or assented to the act causing or threatening the injury or damage.

e. For purposes of this section, widespread injury or damage means serious bodily injury to five or more people or damage to five or more habitations or to a building which would normally have contained 25 or more persons at the time of the offense.