How can someone be charged with a crime based only on a false statement with no evidence?

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How can someone be charged with a crime based only on a false statement with no evidence?

My girlfriend’s house burned down last September. The firemarshal said it was an electrical cause. About a month later, her ex-husband went to the police and told them that he had set the fire and that she was in on it. This caused a further investigation by the firemarshal and insurance company. Since then, she has endured extensive questioning and has cooperated with the insurance lawyer’s requests. The firemarshal has never swayed from his initial findings. She is innocent and has nothing to hide. It is now 6 months later and last night she was arrested and is being charged with arson.

Asked on February 6, 2011 under Criminal Law, Missouri

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You don't really know what further evidence that the insurance company investigator may have come up with.  Additionally, are you certain that the Fire Marshall has not changed their findings?  At any rate, the prosecutor must have some evidence of the commission of a crime (even if its just an uncorroborated statement), otherwise your girlfriend would not have been arrested and charged.  However, just because someone is charged doesn't been that they will be found guilty. 

Quite frankly, your girlfriend needs to hire a criminal law attorney ASAP.  The sooner the better.  If she can't afford one, a Public Defender will be appointed.  Until then, she should not waive her right to remain silent and speak to the police.  She may unknowingly incriminate herself or someone else.


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