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Suspect accused of arson in Lansing apartment fire

Lansing police are saying that a late-night fire at an apartment building was set by a 31-year-old man whom they have arrested. Though there were no injuries and little property damage in the fire, the man could face significant prison time if convicted of arson.

According to news reports, someone reported a fire shortly before midnight on April 15. Firefighters responded to a house that has been divided into four separate living units. They discovered a small fire outside the building and were able to contain it before it caused significant damage to the house.

After a witness said he or she saw a man running away from the house, police used a dog to track down the suspect not far from the building. Police claim the suspect matches the description given by the witness, though it is not clear how good of a look the witness got late at night.

Though the article does not what the man was expected to be charged with, in Michigan setting fire to a dwelling is considered second degree arson. The statute provides for penalties of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 or three times the value of the damaged property, whichever is greater.

As with most felonies, a charge of arson can be very serious due to the potential penalties mentioned above. A defense attorney may be able to examine the prosecution's evidence, check to see if police made any procedural errors and use independent expert witnesses to counter the government's claims.

Source: Lansing State Journal, "Man arrested following fire on Eureka Street in Lansing," Laura Misjak, April 16, 2013

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