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Rutherford man charged with Arson, Burglary after alleged car burglary spree earlier this year

Arson lawyer njA Rutherford man was indicted last week in a 47 count indictment that alleges he went on a car burglary spree earlier this year and broke into dozens of vehicles in Rutherford. He is also charged with arson for allegedly setting two of the vehicles on fire, completely destroying one of them and causing damage to the other.

According to the Bergen Record article,

“Police said at the time of the defendant’s arrest in May that he first went on a two-day spree in April, breaking into several parked cars on the west side of the borough. He then went on another two-day spree a few weeks later on the other side of town, they said. He was arrested after police received a 911 call about a man acting suspiciously near a car in the early morning hours of May 16, 2012, police said. GPS devices and coins stolen from cars were found in his backpack, they said. After questioning him and doing more investigation, police said, they linked the defendant to dozens of burglaries, two arsons and a stolen car that was later recovered.”

The 47 count indictment includes two counts of arson, forty (40) counts of burglary, four counts of theft, and one count of criminal attempt. The most serious charges are the arson charges which are second degree crime and include a maximum of ten (10) years in state prison on each count.

In New Jersey, Arson and Aggravated Arson charges are criminalized under N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1 which provides in pertinent part:

§ 2C:17-1. Arson and Related Offenses

a. Aggravated arson. A person is guilty of aggravated arson, a crime of the second degree, if he starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on his own property or another’s:
(1) Thereby purposely or knowingly placing another person in danger of death or bodily injury; or
(2) With the purpose of destroying a building or structure of another; or
(3) With the purpose of collecting insurance for the destruction or damage to such property under circumstances which recklessly place any other person in danger of death or bodily injury; or
(4) With the purpose of destroying or damaging a structure in order to exempt the structure, completely or partially, from the provisions of any State, county or local zoning, planning or building law, regulation, ordinance or enactment under circumstances which recklessly place any other person in danger of death or bodily injury; or
(5) With the purpose of destroying or damaging any forest.
b. Arson. A person is guilty of arson, a crime of the third degree, if he purposely starts a fire or causes an explosion, whether on his own property or another’s:
(1) Thereby recklessly placing another person in danger of death or bodily injury; or
(2) Thereby recklessly placing a building or structure of another in danger of damage or destruction; or
(3) With the purpose of collecting insurance for the destruction or damage to such property; or
(4) With the purpose of destroying or damaging a structure in order to exempt the structure, completely or partially, from the provisions of any State, county or local zoning, planning or building law, regulation, ordinance or enactment; or
(5) Thereby recklessly placing a forest in danger of damage or destruction.
c. Failure to control or report dangerous fire. A person who knows that a fire is endangering life or a substantial amount of property of another and either fails to take reasonable measures to put out or control the fire, when he can do so without substantial risk to himself, or to give prompt fire alarm, commits a crime of the fourth degree if:

(1) He knows that he is under an official, contractual, or other legal duty to prevent or combat the fire; or
(2) The fire was started, albeit lawfully, by him or with his assent, or on property in his custody or control.

d. Any person who, directly or indirectly, pays or accepts or offers to pay or accept any form of consideration including, but not limited to, money or any other pecuniary benefit, regardless of whether any consideration is actually exchanged for the purpose of starting a fire or causing an explosion in violation of this section commits a crime of the first degree.

e. Notwithstanding the provisions of any section of this Title to the contrary, if a person is convicted of aggravated arson pursuant to the provisions of subsection a. of this section and the structure which was the target of the offense was a health care facility or a physician’s office, the sentence imposed shall include a term of imprisonment. The court may not suspend or make any other noncustodial disposition of a person sentenced pursuant to the provisions of this subsection.

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