Somerset County Prosecutor, Michael H. Robertson, has announced that they have made an arrest in the 2016 torching of two vehicles on Garretson Road in Bridgewater last week. The Defendant, a twenty-one year old from Bridgewater was arrested on May 10, 2018 and charged with among other things, two counts of aggravated arson. He was taken to the Somerset County Jail where he awaits his Detention Hearing. During this hearing, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office will be seeking to convince a judge that the Defendant must remain in the county jail, without bail, pending trial.
According to the limited information that has been released at this point in time, it seems like a distinct real spoiler of a motor vehicle is what lead to the Defendant’s arrest. Based on the reports, a surveillance video captures this distinct vehicle sitting outside the home moments before a large fire erupts in the driveway, engulfing two vehicles. It then captures, who authorities believe is the Defendant, fleeing from the driveway, entering this distinct vehicle and then fleeing from the scene. Also, throughout there investigation, they learned that the Defendant had a close relationship with one of the residents in the home that had ended rather abruptly just prior to the incident. Furthermore, allegedly the Defendant was further aggravated by the fact that the ex-friend would not return a rather expensive gift.
Facing Aggravated Arson Charges in Somerset County, New Jersey
New Jersey has chosen to break arson related charges into two separate categories: Arson, in violation of NJSA 2C:17-1b and Aggravated Arson, in violation of NJSA 2C:17-1a. NJSA 2C:17-1a states in pertinent part that:
- 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:
- Thereby purposely or knowingly placing another person in danger of death or bodily injury; or
- With the purpose of destroying a building or structure of another; or
- 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
- 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
- With the purpose of destroying or damaging any forest.
Based on the limited information above, the State is most likely alleging that by the Defendant starting the fire, he purposely or knowingly placed another person in danger of death or bodily injury. If the State was just alleging that the Defendant did so recklessly, he would only be charged with arson as opposed to aggravated arson. Aggravated Arson is a second degree felony offense in New Jersey. If convicted, the Defendant would be facing anywhere from five to ten years in a State Prison and a fine up to $150,000. In addition, this offense falls under the No Early Release Act (NERA), which requires the Defendant to serve at least 85% of his sentence before he could become eligible for parole. Conversely, arson is only a third degree felony offense and if convicted the Defendant would be facing a maximum of five years in prison and that sentence would not be subject to the No Early Release Act. For more information on arson charges in New Jersey, please contact our office.
Aggravated Arson Lawyer in Bridgewater Township New Jersey
If you have been placed under arrest and charged with a serious criminal offense like aggravated arson, burglary, criminal mischief, aggravated assault, terroristic threats or any other offense for that matter in Somerset or Hunterdon County, we strongly recommend that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Under standing your rights and options is absolutely crucial to protecting yourself if you are being investigated or charged with a crime. If you would like to speak to one of the criminal defense attorneys at Keith Oliver Criminal Law about your options, then please contact our Bridgewater Office at 908-533-1064 or you can try contacting us online by clicking the link. Our office serves all of Somerset and Hunterdon County, including towns like Bridgewater, Bound Brook, Raritan, Readington, Somerville, Flemington, Plainfield, Bedminster and as always, our initial consultations are free of costs.
For more information on this incident, please checkout the Bridgewater Patch’s article labeled Bridgewater Man Arrested For Setting Fire To 3 Cars: Prosecutor.