Juvenile Arson Charges in Pennsylvania

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 03, 2023 | 0 Comments

We often say, “kids will be kids,” when they get in trouble. But sometimes, “horsing around” can cause real damage and have serious legal consequences. That's what a Cumberland County boy recently discovered. Police arrested a juvenile for two fires set at Schaeffer Park on December 4 and December 8, 2023. Police said the fires damaged property and the child now faces charges of arson, criminal mischief, and being at a park after hours. His case is pending with the Cumberland County Juvenile Probation Department.

Arson in Pennsylvania

Arson can be a serious crime in Pennsylvania. While “dangerous burning” is sometimes a summary offense, it can range up to a first-degree felony, depending on the circumstances of the crime.

  • Dangerous Burning: Arson is a summary offense if someone “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.” 18 Pa. Code § 3301(d.1) (2014).
  • Arson Endangering Persons: If someone intentionally starts a fire that endangers someone's life or is directed at an occupied building, it can be a first-degree felony and second-degree murder.
  • Arson Endangering Property: If someone intentionally starts a fire or causes an explosion that damages or recklessly puts other property in danger, it can be a second-degree felony.
  • Aggravated Arson: It's a first-degree felony if someone intentionally starts a fire attempting to cause injury intentionally, recklessly causes injury, or someone is inside the property. Aggravated arson can also be second-degree murder if someone dies, including firefighters.
  • Reckless Burning or Exploding: It's a third-degree felony in Pennsylvania if someone intentionally starts a fire that recklessly puts someone's property in danger or puts any personal property with a value over $5,000, including vehicles and boats, in danger.

Criminal Mischief in Pennsylvania

Vandalism or damaging someone else's property is legally known as criminal mischief in Pennsylvania. Someone can face criminal mischief charges in Pennsylvania when they:

  • Damage someone else's property intentionally, recklessly, or negligently using fire,
  • Intentionally or recklessly tamper with someone else's property that can endanger another,
  • Deface or damage public property with graffiti,
  • Intentionally damage someone's real property,
  • Intentionally deface property with a paintball gun, or
  • Intentionally or recklessly causes a monetary loss to someone else by deception or threat.

18 Pa. Code § 3304 (2005).

Juvenile Offenses in Pennsylvania

While juveniles charged with crimes will fall under a different legal system in Pennsylvania, they can still face serious consequences if they are “adjudicated delinquent,” the equivalent of a conviction. Your child could face time in a juvenile detention facility, interruptions to their education, and fewer educational and career opportunities in their future. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure the best possible outcome for their case.

You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have a child facing criminal charges in juvenile court, the consequences can still be serious. That's why you need a skilled criminal defense attorney, well-versed in handling juvenile charges, protecting your child's rights, and guiding you through the process. Our Criminal Law Team at the LLF Law Firm has defended Pennsylvania juveniles for years, and we can help you too. Give the LLF Law Firm a call at 888.535.3686, or contact us online to schedule your consultation.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

The LLF Law Firm Team has decades of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the LLF Law Firm today! Our Criminal Defense Team will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.