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Kenneth Vercammen & Associates
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AGGRAVATED ARSON, OF CHURCH, jury charge (N.J.S.A. 2C

AGGRAVATED ARSON, ARSON, FIRST DEGREE ARSON OF CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, TEMPLE OR OTHER PLACE OF PUBLIC WORSHIP model jury charge

(N.J.S.A.2C:17-1g)

Count __ of the indictment charges the defendant with [aggravated arson] [arson] of a [church] [synagogue] [temple] [place of public worship].

[Charge Aggravated Arson, Arson or First Degree Arson]

This count of the indictment also alleges that the structure which was the target of the offense was a [church] [synagogue] [temple] [place of public worship], specifically: [describe the charged premise][1]If you find that the State has proven each of the elements I have previously described, then you must determine whether it has also proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the target of the offense was a [church] [synagogue] [temple] [place of public worship].

In order for you to determine that the [church] [synagogue] [temple] [place of public worship] was the target[2]of the charged arson, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the defendants purpose to [destroy][3][destroy or damage][4]a [church] [synagogue] [temple] [place of public worship].I have already defined purposely for you.

If you find that the State has failed to prove this additional element beyond a reasonable doubt, but has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant has committed [arson for hire] [aggravated arson] [arson], then you must find the defendant not guilty of [arson for hire][aggravated arson] [arson] of a [church] [synagogue] [temple] [place of public worship], but guilty of[arson for hire] [aggravated arson] [arson].On the other hand, if you find that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt all of the elements of [arson for hire] [aggravated arson] [arson] and this additional element, then you must find the defendant guilty of [arson for hire] [aggravated arson] [arson] of a [church] [synagogue] [temple] [place of public worship].Finally, if you find that the State has failed to prove any of the elements of [arson for hire] [aggravated arson] [arson] beyond a reasonable doubt, then you must find the defendant not guilty.



[1]If the defendant is convicted of aggravated arson, arson or first-degree arson, and the target of his crime was a church, synagogue, temple or other place of public worship, he is guilty of a crime of the first degree, and the sentence imposed shall include a term of imprisonment.The term of imprisonment shall include a fifteen year term of parole ineligibility.N.J.S.A.2C:17-1g.

[2]Target is not defined in the statute.Target is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (3rd ed.) as,interalia, [s]omething aimed or fired at.

[3]Use destroy if an aggravated arson is charged underN.J.S.A.2C:17-1a(2).

[4]Use destroy or damage if an aggravated arson is charged underN.J.S.A.2C:17-1a(3) orN.J.S.A.2C:17-1a(4), or if arson is charged underN.J.S.A.2C:17-1b(2),N.J.S.A.2C:17-1b(3) orN.J.S.A.2C:17-1b(4).


Kenneth Vercammen was the Middlesex County Bar Municipal Court Attorney of the Year

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