Charged with arson
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QuestionCountry: United States of America
Approximately 6 weeks ago, my boyfriend broke it off and proceeded to return a gift bag full of cards and letters I had sent. I was so distraught that I took everything out and burned it in the breezeway of my apartment complex. My neighbor (a buddy of my ex) called the police and fire departments and a report was filed, although I was not arrested, and no property except my own cards and letters was damaged.
I later found out that the neighbors were gunning for me to lose my apartment and have protective services take my children away, due to this incident. I proceeded to issue a formal written apology to both the apartment complex, and each of my neighbors, as well as personally speak with each of them regarding my indiscretion and promising to never allow it to happen again. They did not call protective services, but I have since had to find a new place to live.
I received a notice from the district court 3 weeks later that I am being charged with arson (MCL 750.771A is the law I broke, to be exact) and I appeared for arraignment where I stood mute for my plea, because I am a single mother with 2 children and didn't know how to proceed, but also knew that I couldn't go to jail.
I am scheduled for a pre-trial on December 5, and was told I make too much money to qualify for a public defender in our state (Michigan), however, I cannot even afford to buy groceries at this point, let alone retain a lawyer.
I am afraid I could lose my job, my home, my kids, if I am convicted, as the maximum punishment is $500 and 93 days in jail. I will be obtaining the police and fire department reports tomorrow. I really don't know how to proceed next, and any advice you could give would be immensely appreciated."