Homicide/Murder in New Jersey

Homicide is the taking of a life by another human being. There are few if any more serious offenses. In New Jersey, criminal homicide is classified as either murder, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, or death by auto. Each have different elements that the state needs to prove.Anyone charged with homicide or murder in New Jersey is entitled to an attorney, but retaining your own homicide lawyer is essential for protecting your rights, liberty and future.


Murder is a first degree crime, carrying a penalty of 30 years to life in prison, or life without parole if there are aggravating circumstances such as the murder of a police officer. New Jersey abolished the death penalty in 2007.The offender must have “purposely or knowingly caused the death or serious bodily injury which resulted in death.” The perpetrator must also have committed the act with the awareness that his actions were almost certain to result in death or serious bodily injury, or that he planned or contemplated causing death or serious bodily injury to the potential victim.The defendant’s state of mind is often determined by his conduct, such as using a gun or knife, or any other weapon capable of killing or causing serious bodily injury.You can also be charged if death occurred as a result of your committing certain felonious acts such as arson, sexual assault, robbery, kidnaping, rape, sodomy, car jacking, drug dealing, or criminal gang activity.


There are three primary types of manslaughter in New Jersey - aggravated, reckless, and passion as a result of reasonable provocation.

To prove aggravated manslaughter, the State has to show that the defendant acted with extreme indifference to human life. If convicted of aggravated manslaughter the court can sentence you to 10 to 30 years in prison. Aggravated manslaughter can also occur if a motorist causes death while attempting to elude the police by engaging in a high speed chase. In this circumstance, aggravated manslaughter is a first degree crime with a penalty of 10 to 20 years in prison.

Reckless manslaughter is a second degree crime that carries up to 10 years in state prison. The perpetrator must have committed the offense while showing a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death would result, and his conduct was so grossly below the standard that a reasonable person would have followed under similar circumstances. An example is a heat of passion homicide following a reasonable provocation, such as fear or rage, that would have incited a reasonable person to use violent force, and the defendant had no time to “cool off.” This offense is a second degree crime with a penalty of 5 to 10 years in prison.

Death by Auto

Death by auto occurs when a person drives a car recklessly and causes the death of a person. Drunk driving is an example of this type of homicide. The motorist acted recklessly, or with a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death would result from his driving conduct. Death by auto is a second degree crime punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine up to $200,000. The driver will also be required to serve 85% of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.


Defenses to murder include intoxication, which may negate the defendant having knowingly or purposely committed the offense; and insanity, a very difficult defense to prove on the defendant’s part, who must show that he had a mental disease or defect that precluded him from appreciating what he was doing, or that he did not realize that what he was doing was wrong. Intoxication is not a defense to reckless conduct such as aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter and death by auto.

Self-defense can be used if the defendant can demonstrate that his actions were reasonable, made in good faith, and were necessary to save his life. The statute of limitations does not apply to any homicide offense except death by auto.

Hiring and retaining a skilled and competent homicide lawyer is absolutely vital for exploring your rights, viable defenses, and using any mitigating circumstances that can obtain for you the best possible outcome. Do not delay!

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen S. Weinstein, P.C.
for your free personal consultation today.

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