senate Bill S2950

Relates to arson in the first degree

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 03 / Feb / 2011
    • REFERRED TO CODES
  • 17 / May / 2011
    • 1ST REPORT CAL.723
  • 18 / May / 2011
    • 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • 23 / May / 2011
    • ADVANCED TO THIRD READING
  • 02 / Jun / 2011
    • PASSED SENATE
  • 02 / Jun / 2011
    • DELIVERED TO ASSEMBLY
  • 02 / Jun / 2011
    • REFERRED TO CODES
  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • DIED IN ASSEMBLY
  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • RETURNED TO SENATE
  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • REFERRED TO CODES
  • 23 / Jan / 2012
    • 1ST REPORT CAL.103
  • 24 / Jan / 2012
    • 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • 30 / Jan / 2012
    • ADVANCED TO THIRD READING
  • 31 / Jan / 2012
    • PASSED SENATE
  • 31 / Jan / 2012
    • DELIVERED TO ASSEMBLY
  • 31 / Jan / 2012
    • REFERRED TO CODES

Summary

Establishes a person is guilty of arson in the first degree when he intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle by causing an explosion or a fire and when such explosion or fire is accelerated by use of ignitable liquid or flammable gas.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A10424
Versions:
S2950
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Current Committee:
Assembly Codes
Law Section:
Penal Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง150.20, Pen L
Versions Introduced in Previous Legislative Cycles:
2009-2010: S503, A5917
2011-2012: A5474
2007-2008: A5248

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S2950

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the penal law, in relation to arson in the first degree

PURPOSE:
This bill expands and clarifies the definition of arson in the first
degree to include fires accelerate by various incendiary materials, and
fires caused or accelerated by the use of flammable or combustible
liquids or flammable gases.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
This bill would expand and clarify the definition of arson in the first
degree, section 150.20 of the Penal Law,. Under the proposed amendment a
person will be guilt of arson in the first degree if he or she
intentionally damages a building or motor vehicle by causing and
explosion or fire, when such an explosion or fire is cause by an
incendiary device or an explosive or by utilizing a flammable or
combustible liquid or flammable gas. Secondly, the definition of
"incendiary device" would be expanded to include chemically or
mechanically ignited devices. Finally, the bill would add a definition
for the term "explosive" to the crime of arson in the first degree.

JUSTIFICATION:
This bill, to expand the definition of arson in the first degree, would
serve as a deterrent as first degree arson can be prosecuted with
stricter penalties.

A broader arson law would avoid the result that occurred in People v.
Fernandez, 569 N.Y.S. 2d 569 (N.Y. Co. Crim. Term April 11, 1991). In
Fernandez, the defendants, described as members of a gang, repeatedly
engaged in drug activity and were indicted under the first degree arson
statue because they allegedly poured gasoline into an automobile, drove
it into a building, and then threw a lit book of matches into an
automobile, as retaliation against residents who reported such drug
activity. The judge dismissed the part of indictment concluding that the
automobile used to commence the fire was not an "incendiary device"
under section 150.20 of the Penal Law. The Judge also stated that, "if
the Legislature wishes to raise the penalty for acts of terrorism...
then it must once again redraft the first degree arson statue," 569
N.Y.S. 2d 573.
More recently, on July 10, 2006, evidence supports that Dr. Nicholas
Bartha rigged the main gas line in the basement of his Upper East Side
home allowing large amounts of flammable natural gas to be released into
the air. The explosion, an apparent attempt at suicide and to destroy
the house as a result of a martial dispute, was devastating.

While the
doctor ultimately died of his injuries prior to prosecution, it is not
clear whether he could have been convicted of arson in the first degree

since he apparently did not utilize any incendiary devices or explosives
as defined in the current law. This is despite the indication that the
release of natural gas was a purposeful act.
The acts alleged in the Fernandez case and the Upper East Side explosion
should be subject to prosecution as first degree arson. Such prosecution
would take place if the proposed amendment to the Penal Law were
enacted.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2010: S.503 - Referred to Codes/A.5917 - Referred to Codes
2009: S.503 - Referred to Codes/A.5917 - Referred to Codes
2008: S.5551 - Passed Senate/A.5248 - Referred to Codes
2007: S.5551 - Passed Senate/A.5248 - Referred to Codes
2006: S.5622 - Passed Senate/A.8905 - Referred to Codes
2005: S.5622 - Passed Senate/A.8905 - Referred to Codes

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
Undetermined.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day after it shall have
become a law.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  2950

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            February 3, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  LANZA  -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes

AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to arson in the first degree

  THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section  1. Section 150.20 of the penal law, as amended by chapter 950
of the laws of 1984, is amended to read as follows:
S 150.20 Arson in the first degree.
  1. A person is guilty of arson in the  first  degree  when  he  inten-
tionally  damages a building or motor vehicle by causing an explosion or
a fire and when (a) such explosion or fire is caused by  OR  ACCELERATED
BY  USE  OF  IGNITABLE  LIQUID  OR FLAMMABLE GAS OR an incendiary device
propelled, thrown [or], placed OR  OTHERWISE  DISPERSED  OR  DISTRIBUTED
inside or near such building or motor vehicle; or when such explosion or
fire  is  caused  by an explosive; or when such explosion or fire either
(i) causes serious physical  injury  to  another  person  other  than  a
participant,  or (ii) the explosion or fire was caused with the expecta-
tion or receipt of financial advantage or pecuniary profit by the actor;
and when (b) another person who is not a participant  in  the  crime  is
present  in  such  building  or  motor  vehicle at the time; and (c) the
defendant knows that fact or the circumstances are such as to render the
presence of such person therein a reasonable possibility.
  2. As used in this section, "incendiary  device"  means  a  [breakable
container]   DEVICE   designed   to  [explode  or]  produce  uncontained
combustion [upon impact, containing flammable liquid and having  a  wick
or  a  similar  device  capable of being ignited] OR USED AS A SOURCE OF
IGNITION.
  Arson in the first degree is a class A-I felony.
  S 2. This act shall take effect on the thirtieth day  after  it  shall
have become a law.

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD02102-01-1

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