Arson Insurance Fraud Explained by a NY Defense Lawyer
Homeowners’ in surance, renters’ insurance and motor vehicle insurance provide coverage for damage caused by fire. If your vehicle, home, or possessions are destroyed in a blaze, you can be compensated for the costs of replacement. Accidental fires can occur for many reasons, and property owners who have insurance coverage can be compensated any time they suffer a covered loss. If a stranger starts a fire, the policyholder can also be covered for the damage caused by arson.
In some cases, however, insured policyholders are accused of burning down their own house or vehicle, or of starting a fire to damage their own possessions. When this happens, an accusation of arson insurance fraud can have very serious consequences. In addition to delays in getting your insurance claim paid or a possible civil action by an insurer to recover funds paid out improperly, a person accused of arson fraud could end up in jail if convicted.
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC provides legal representation to clients accused of all types of insurance fraud offenses. If you are charged with arson fraud, you are also likely going to face criminal prosecution for allegedly starting the fire.
We can defend you against arson charges as well, with the goal of helping you to avoid imprisonment and minimize or avoid any possible penalties that you could face.
What is Arson Insurance Fraud?
Arson insurance fraud involves intentionally starting a fire, or hiring someone to start a fire, to cause the destruction or damage of insured property. The goal is to get an insurance company to provide a payout for losses caused by the fire, even though the fire was set on purpose.
Types of Arson Insurance Fraud
Arson insurance fraud can involve a fire started in a home, rental unit, or vehicle. A person who is underwater on a home mortgage, for example, may start a fire in the home to get the insurer to pay out for the replacement or repair cost of the house.
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It is often difficult to determine whether a fire was caused by arson fraud or was simply an accident. A person who leaves the stove on and falls asleep, or who falls asleep smoking a cigarette, has not committed arson because these were accidental oversights. An individual who intentionally puts flammable items near a stove and then turns it on in order to cause a fire and get insurance to pay for a new kitchen could be guilty of arson insurance fraud.
Teams of special investigators from insurance companies and from local law enforcement conduct investigations after a fire occurs in order to try to determine if a fire was accidental or was intentionally set. Unless a prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the fire was set on purpose, you should not be found guilty of arson.
Likewise, unless a prosecutor can prove you intentionally made a false claim for arson damage to an insurer, you should not be found guilty of arson insurance fraud.
Penalties for Arson Insurance Fraud
Penalties for arson insurance fraud can include charges under NY Penal Code Article 150, which deals with the crime of arson. You can also be charged with an insurance fraud offense under NY Penal Code Article 176. There are first through fifth degree offenses for both arson and insurance fraud. Fifth degree offenses are the least serious and first degree offenses are felony offenses that can result in a lengthy prison term.
If you participated in any part of an arson fraud scheme, you can be charged with all crimes committed in furtherance of that scheme. For example, if you hire someone to burn your house down and then make a fraudulent insurance claim after the fire, this can lead to both an arson charge and an insurance fraud charge.
Contact a NY Defense Lawyer With Experience in Arson Fraud
Bukh Law Firm, PLLC can provide you with legal help if you are accused of arson fraud. Our experienced NY criminal defense lawyers have represented many clients accused of participation in insurance fraud schemes and accused of property destruction through intentionally or negligently setting fires.
To learn more about available defenses, negotiating a plea bargain, or steps to take when accused of arson fraud, give us a call today.