Pennsylvania Arson Charges and Laws

The Top 10 Things NOT To Do If You're Arrested

The state of arson charges in Pennsylvania is scary. The science just isn’t there.

If you do nothing else, please read the The Story of James Hugney Sr.

Arson charges ? This is a picture of a bedroom where James Hugney, Jr. was sleeping and what fire investigators at the time believed were “characteristic pour patterns” that proved that there was an arson. We fought his wrongful conviction. We got him out of prison after spending 35 years, 11 months and 8 days for wrongful arson charges

Learn More About James and how we used science to beat the arson charge

When selecting which attorney to hire, please consider:

  • Can you call anytime and talk to a live person?
  • Do they offer payment plans with no credit checks?
  • Will your attorney be attentive and explain what’s going on?

At The McShane Firm, we answer yes to all of these questions. We strive to provide you with a great customer service experience during this tough time.

What you need to know about Arson charges in PA

There’s not a lot of information available out there on Pennsylvania Arson Laws. Why? Most attorneys don’t know squat about it. We do. We teach lawyers, judges, scientists and prosecutors about fire science. Nationally, folks all over the US know us for our heavy background in forensic science. That’s why folks call us The Science Attorneys. The government is supposed to use science as be the cornerstone of arson charges. Oftentimes, science is totally missing from these cases.

There’s an old joke that goes: What do you call someone who escapes a fire but their family dies in it? Answer: the Defendant. It’s crude. But if you look all over the nation, this is true. The police are quick to accuse. But in reality arson charges are very hard for the government to prove.

Justin McShane is one of only a handful of criminal defense attorneys who has received NFPA 921 certification in arson investigation and fire debris investigation

Pennsylvania Arson Penalties

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania defines arson as when:

“a person 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.”

Some myths busted

  • The building does not have to be a home or a business to qualify as arson.
  • The building does not have to burn to the ground to qualify as arson.
  • In fact, the State does not need to prove that you intended to burn the structure in question down to convict you, only that you intentionally started the fire.
  • You do not have to give a statement to the insurance company if your property is damaged by fire.

What is The McShane Difference?

  • We take time to understand your personal needs and goals. Then we cater our legal strategy to fit you.
  • We care about you. We listen and return phone calls. We will take time to explain things so you are not left anxious in the dark.
  • We will make this as easy as possible. We will try to minimize the number of times you have to be in court which means less disruption of your work and family life.

Does this sound like what you are looking for in an attorney? If yes, then take the next step and call (717) 657-3900.

Your Attorney Needs to Know the State of Arson Science

A fire inspector also needs to appear in court and testify that he or she has reason to suspect arson. Oftentimes, these fire investigators are non-scientists who do not understand or have never been exposed to the science of fire. For this reason, you must have an arson science trained attorney on your side. This person may be the only one in the courtroom who has a firm understanding of forensic science of fire debris investigation. We have ready access to top experts who can stand up to the state hogwash.

Justin McShane has been one of the few criminal defense attorneys who is also a member fo NFPA

Arson is a felony of the first degree with high sentencing guidelines. The maximum sentence is up to 20 years. If the fire injured or killed anyone, you can also face aggravated assault or murder charges.

If you’re facing trial for arson, you need experience in your corner. The McShane Firm CEO Justin McShane has extensive forensic science training, He has been to several fire and arson seminars conducted through the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This is the same type of training that advanced fire investigators get.

Our Clients are entitled to a Bill of Rights which states:

  • Our clients have the right to expect, we will be proactive in communication. You will hear it from us first. We will return all phone calls, texts and emails promptly.
  • Our clients have the right to expect plain speaking, straight shooting. No B. S.
  • Our clients have the right to expect us to do it right the first time, every time.
  • Our clients have the right to expect us to be on time and professionally prepared for all court appearances, and all meetings.
  • Our clients have the right to expect that they will be fully informed at all times.

This is our promise to you. Call today to get us on your side: (717) 657-3900.

World renowned expert

McShane has been featured in articles about the sad state of fire science in America. He is the go to defense expert for news journalists all over the world. He was recently quoted in Discover Magazine regarding a lack of scientific expertise in the prosecution of arson crimes. According to McShane:

“It’s still the Wild West out there. You’ve still got people talking about crazed glass or using the most damage as an indicator of the source. One can only hope that in ten to twenty years we get trained scientists doing these investigations.”

Discover magazine quoted Justin McShane as a lawyer known to handle arson charges all over the US

The ATF/PSP/PA DCNR held a conference called “Arson Investigation for Prosecutors.” Attorney McShane taught there. Prosecutors from around the United States learned from him about the true science of fire and explosive debris investigation.

Justin McShane was an invited lecturer to “Arson for Prosecutors” held by the PA DCNR and the PSP and the ATF

Watch as Justin McShane and the Pennsylvania State Police Arson Investigation Unit teach prosecutors about Arson science

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