Accomplished Former Prosecutors At Our NJ Criminal Firm Are Ready to Defend You
The criminal offense of manslaughter is actually a form of homicide. The charge carries less severe penalties than murder although a complaint or indictment for either aggravated manslaughter or voluntary manslaughter (a.k.a. murder committed in the heat of passion) is nothing short of extreme. You face the real possibility of a decade or more in prison if you are convicted of manslaughter so it is wise to take your time to find the best NJ criminal lawyer to defend you. You cannot afford to entrust your case to an inexperienced attorney given these stakes.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have the know-how to effectively defend a charge with the complexity of manslaughter. In fact, the members of our team are among the very small pool that has handled many homicide cases over the last several decades. They can also offer you:
- Over 200 years of combined experience defending murder, attempted murder, felony murder, manslaughter, and vehicular homicide cases
- Ten lawyers that limit their practices to criminal defense only
- Former county prosecutors who have served as the Director of Major Crimes, an entire Trial Division, Homicide, Domestic Violence, Juvenile, and other keys units
- Certified criminal trial attorneys
- A long and impressive track record of acquittals at trial, dismissals and non-custodial plea bargains (i.e. probation)
To obtain a comprehensive initial consultation with a talented defense lawyer at the firm, call 877-450-8301. Attorneys are available 24/7 to discuss a detention hearing or any other aspect of your New Jersey manslaughter case.
We defend manslaughter charges throughout New Jersey, including Hudson County, Somerset County, Burlington County, Camden County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County and Hunterdon County. Contact our office in Jersey City, Somerville, Mount Holly, Camden, Mays Landing, Woodbury or Flemington for the assistance you need.
NJ Manslaughter Charges Under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4
If you or a loved one has been charged with manslaughter, there is a significant amount of information of importance to you, including the elements needed to prove this offense, potential penalties, and defenses that can help you win your case. The starting point to this analysis is N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4, the New Jersey Manslaughter statute. This law establishes four (4) varieties of manslaughter: (1) aggravated manslaughter; (2) aggravated manslaughter while eluding; (3) reckless manslaughter; and (4) passion/provocation manslaughter (a.k.a. voluntary manslaughter). The headings below explain the basics of each type of manslaughter.
Aggravated Manslaughter – 2C:11-4a(1). It is a first-degree crime to cause the death of another person by acting recklessly “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life.” An individual has this state of mind if they consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death would result from their conduct. It is a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have shown under similar circumstances.
Aggravated Manslaughter While Eluding – 2C:11-4a(2). An individual also commits aggravated manslaughter if they cause the death of another person while eluding the police. This form of manslaughter is a first-degree crime as well.
Reckless Manslaughter – 2C:11-4b(1). It is a second-degree crime to recklessly cause the death of another person.
Manslaughter in the Heat of Passion – 2C:11-4b(2). When an individual intentionally causes the death of another person it will result in manslaughter as opposed to murder if the conduct was committed in the heat of passion based on reasonable provocation. The provocation is reasonable in provoking uncontrolled passion if it is so severe that it would have provoked a reasonable person to lose self-control and resort to violence. There cannot be sufficient time to “cool off” before committing the homicide or the provocation and passion required under 2C:11-4b(2) is lost. This form of manslaughter is sometimes referred to as voluntary manslaughter and is also a second-degree crime.
Penalties for Manslaughter in New Jersey
Although aggravated manslaughter under 2C:11-4a(1) is a first-degree crime, a conviction carries an enhanced period of incarceration of 10-30 years. The standard term of imprisonment for a first-degree crime applies where aggravated manslaughter results from eluding in violation of 2C:11-4a(2), namely, 10-20 years in prison. There is a maximum fine of $200,000 under either variety of aggravated manslaughter.
Manslaughter is otherwise a second-degree crime under 2C:11-4. If you are convicted of reckless manslaughter (2C:11-4b(1)) or voluntary manslaughter (2C:11-4b(2)) you may be imprisoned for 5-10 years and fined up to $150,000.
The No Early Release Act (“NERA”) applies at the time of sentencing for any form of manslaughter. This provision of New Jersey Law requires that a defendant serve at least 85% of his/her prison term before they may be considered for parole (e.g. 8.5 years on a 10-year prison sentence).
Relationship of Attempted Murder & Voluntary Manslaughter. If there is evidence that the accused attempted to murder another person but that it was because of a momentary instance of passion that would be enough to provoke a reasonable person, then an attempted murder charge can be reduced to attempted voluntary manslaughter.
Relationship of Murder & Aggravated Manslaughter (a.k.a. Reckless Manslaughter). An individual can be charged with murder and the less severe offense of aggravated manslaughter stemming from the same incident. The distinction between the violations is the presence of a purpose to kill or seriously injure the victim. When this element is present, the appropriate offense is murder. Conversely, aggravated manslaughter applies when the death was caused by recklessness under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life.
Relationship of Murder & Voluntary Manslaughter (a.k.a. Passion/Provocation Manslaughter). As previously stated, murder requires a purpose to kill or seriously injure the victim. The wrinkle here is that voluntary manslaughter has this same element. The distinction between the two is that the latter occurs during a period of uncontrollable passion or provocation.
Relationship of Manslaughter and Vehicular Homicide (i.e. Death by Auto). It is often confusing to a litigant when they are charged with both death by auto and manslaughter. The reason both charges can be filed is because each has different elements of proof that a jury could adopt.
Defenses to a Manslaughter Charge
There are many defenses that a savvy criminal defense attorney can utilize to secure an acquittal. Diminished capacity can be utilized to demonstrate that the accused lacked purpose, did not act knowingly, or even that there was a lack of conscious disregard of a known risk. When such an argument is lacking, it is nevertheless always possible to introduce testimony and other evidence to raise reasonable doubt concerning a fundamental element of the related manslaughter offense (e.g. the conduct was careless and negligent but did not rise to the level of recklessness, there was no intention to kill the victim in a case involving voluntary manslaughter, etc.). Another defense that can apply in a manslaughter case is self-defense. The point is that there is a slew of defenses that a skilled lawyer at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can employ on your behalf so you maintain your liberty.
Manslaughter Lawyers in New Jersey
The exposure is just about as extreme as it gets when someone is arrested and charged with manslaughter. There is not only a possibility but a probability of a long period of imprisonment if the arrest leads to a conviction. Hiring the most talented criminal lawyer you can find is unquestionably the best thing you can do to combat these risks. The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has a team of accomplished attorneys that clearly have the know-how and experience to help you. To discuss the specifics of your manslaughter charge with an attorney at the firm, call 877-450-8301. We are available around the clock to assist you.