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Arlington woman accused of setting fires in Fairfax County

Details in a local news report are scant as to why police have charged a 33-year-old Arlington woman with setting numerous fires in an office building in Fairfax County. Investigators from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department claimed the woman started each of the fires in the McLean area over a span of several weeks. She now faces the criminal charge of burning an occupied commercial office building, Virginia Code 18.2-80, which is a Class 3 felony.

The report doesn't offer any motivation for the woman's allegedly setting the fires, which investigators say were started primarily in bathrooms and mechanical rooms. It was also not made clear exactly what evidence authorities used to charge the woman.

The fires the woman is accused of setting would appear to be relatively small, as the cumulative damage totals to an estimated $500. Police took the woman to jail at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, where she was being held on a $10,000 bond.

Clearly, an in-depth analysis of the facts of the case will be needed to determine if the woman was actually at fault. Initial news reports are generally written from the perspective of law enforcement officers who intend to write their reports with a view toward convicting the accused individual. When people in Virginia are accused of a crime, the real circumstances of the case are often not as clear-cut as media or police reports would have us believe. That is why it is important that accused individuals know the full extent of their rights under Virginia law, including the right to a strategic defense aimed at the dismissal or reduction of charges.

Source: McLean Patch, "Arlington Woman Arrested for Setting Fires in McLean Building," Jan. 21, 2012

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