Hampshire County Criminal Arson Defense Attorney

An allegation of committing arson is one of the most serious legal situations a person can find themselves in. The state of Massachusetts devotes numerous resources to investigating crimes because of the potential for devastating property damage, serious personal injury, and death.

In a joint effort, municipal police and fire departments, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the State Fire and Explosive Investigation Unit, and the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agency all work together to bring arsonists to justice in Massachusetts.

If you are being investigated for arson, or if criminal charges have already been filed, don’t speak with police, fire investigators or insurance investigators without first consulting a skilled defense attorney.

Contact Criminal Defense Attorney Thomas Kokonowski for a free initial case review. PH: 413.585.9200 (Northampton) 413.549.0022 (Amherst).

Arson can be charged as a felony crime in Massachusetts and the penalties can be harsh. If convicted, you could be facing up to 20 years in state prison.

Hi, I’m Tom Kokonowski, a criminal defense attorney serving Hampshire County and Franklin County. As a former prosecutor, I have a solid understanding of how arson is investigated and can mount a strong legal defense on your behalf. 

Elements of Arson

In order to find you guilty of arson, a prosecutor must prove the following elements

  • you set fire to, burned, or caused a building to be burned (you can also be charged if you assisted in the burning)
  • the building that was burned was a dwelling house, a structure that adjoined a dwelling house, or whose burning caused a dwelling house to be burned.
  • you acted willfully and maliciously; the act was intentional and by design

Factors that Impact Arson Charges and Sentencing

The level of your arson charge depends on the following factors

Type of building burned

  • Dwelling houses are buildings where people live or reside ( apartments, hospitals, hotels, dormitories, institutions)
    • the maximum sentence is 20 years in prison or 2 ½ years in a house of corrections; fine up to $10,000
  • Meeting houses are buildings erected for public use (church, courthouse, townhouse, college, jail, bank, warehouse, store, barn, shop, lumber yard, ship, street car, train car, stable and shop)
    • imprisonment in the state prison for no more than 10 years, or by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for no more than 2 ½ years
  • Amount of damage caused to building and nearby buildings
  • Whether someone was injured or killed
  • Prior criminal history
  • Whether insurance fraud was a motive

Defenses to Arson

  • questioning the science and investigative evidence
  • no willful intent to burn building, it was an accident
  • you have an alibi
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