Manslaughter is a second degree crime in New Jersey in accordance with N.J.S. 2C:11-4(b). What this means is that if you are convicted of this offense, you face a state prison term of 5-10 years and a fine that can reach $150,000. An individual can be prosecuted for manslaughter if they recklessly cause the death of another or if they commit a murder in the heat of passion resulting from reasonable provocation. If you or a loved one has been charged with aggravated manslaughter
, manslaughter, aggravated assault
, the Law Offices of Marshall, Bonus, Proetta & Oliver can help. Our defense team has decades of experience, including many years serving as prosecutors, to insure that the best possible result is reached in your case. We have been representing clients charged with criminal offense in Essex County, in towns like East Orange
, South Orange
, Bloomfield, Irvington and Orange for over a decade. To learn how we can help you or a loved one, call us anytime 24/7 at 973-710-1520.
Essex County NJ Manslaughter Attorneys
N.J.S. 2C:11-4(b) outlines the offense known as manslaughter and provides that:
b. Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter when:
(1) It is committed recklessly;
(2) A homicide which would otherwise be murder under section 2C:11-3 is committed in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation.
The proofs that must be established in order to obtain a conviction under N.J.S. 2C:11-4(b) are significantly different depending on whether section (1) or (2) applies. The discussion that follows is therefore divided to address each section separately.
Manslaughter Charge Based on Reckless Conduct
To convict someone of reckless manslaughter, the prosecutor must establish that the accused disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death. What we are talking about here is a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would exercise under the same circumstances. Something more than normal negligence is required here, for example, firing a gun at someone with the mistaken belief it was unloaded. This form of manslaughter is a different offense than Death by Auto, which is an entirely separate criminal offense with an entirely different set of proofs in order to establish guilt.
Unlike reckless manslaughter, this form of 2C:11-4(b) violation stems from an act intended to kill the victim. What transforms the offense from murder to passion/provocation manslaughter is the legitimacy of the emotions that provoked the conduct. The event must be so extreme as to cause a reasonable person to lose self-control and to resort to violence. For the provocation manslaughter to apply, the following requirements must satisfied.
• Adequate Provocation. The passion that is generated must be sufficient to cause an ordinary person to lose control. Words alone do not suffice as the triggering incident must be extreme enough as to trigger uncontrollable violence. The classic example is the spouse who comes home to discover another man in bed with his wife and spontaneously attacks.
• No Cooling off Period Exists. Since the cornerstone of the downgrade from murder to manslaughter is the foreseeability of the lack of control, there cannot be any time to cool down prior to the confrontation. Premeditation is never an option when passion manslaughter applies; this is not a situation where actions are motivated by revenge.
• Provocation Must Have Actually Impassioned The Accused.
• The Accused Did Not Cool Off.
The first two requirements are often referred to as the “objective” factors whereas the latter two are termed “subjective” factors. The reason is because 1 & 2 are measured in terms of the reasonable person standard whereas 3 & 4 are predicated on the actual state of mind that existed on the part of the defendant.
What are the Penalties If Convicted of Manslaughter NJ?
As previously stated, this charge is a second degree crime. Second degree manslaughter carries a prison term in the range of 5-10 years. In addition, the No Early Release Act applies to any jail sentence imposed for manslaughter. What this means is that a defendant must serve at least 85% of their prison term before they may be considered for parole. There is also up to a $150,000 fine that may be imposed.
East Orange NJ Manslaughter Lawyer
If you need assistance defending a manslaughter charge at the Essex County Superior Court in Newark or elsewhere in the state, our defense team is skilled to assist you. Call us at 973-710-1520 to discuss your charges with an experienced homicide defense lawyer or to set up an appointment in our Newark Office.