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What are New Jersey’s manslaughter laws?

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2022 | Assault |

Although not as serious as murder, a charge of manslaughter carries serious ramifications even if you are not convicted. This is what to expect if you are arrested for this by New Jersey authorities.

Understanding manslaughter

In New Jersey, a person can face manslaughter charges if they kill someone else due to recklessness, in the heat of passion or while trying to evade police. Manslaughter differs from other homicide crimes like murder because it lacks the element of malice. In a case involving manslaughter, the prosecution would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted recklessly or acted in the heat of passion while causing the victim’s death. However, charges can be elevated to aggravated manslaughter if they acted recklessly while fleeing law enforcement and caused the death of another person.

Penalties for manslaughter depend on the severity of the offense. For a second-degree conviction, penalties include 10 to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of $150,000. Aggravated manslaughter is classified as a first-degree crime and carries 10 to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $200,000.

Possible defenses to manslaughter

There are different potential defenses that can be used in cases involving violent crimes like manslaughter. One of the most common is self-defense. If the defendant can show that they used deadly force to protect themselves from imminent harm, this defense could work in the case. Using this defense means that the defendant acknowledges that they killed the other person but that their actions were justified.

Another common defense to manslaughter is mistaken identity. If the defendant can prove with an alibi that they were somewhere else at the time of the killing and the evidence clearly shows that this is true, it could be a strong defense.

Some defendants plead insanity to manslaughter charges. This defense is only viable if it can be proven that the person was cognitively unable to recognize that they were committing a crime.