New Jersey Murder & Homicide Charges
Homicide refers to the killing of another person (it does not refer to the killing of animals). Murder is a homicide (because a person is killed), but not all homicides are charged as murder crimes. In fact, not all homicides are punishable by law.
There are two main types of homicides: justifiable homicide (lawful) and unlawful homicide (unjustified). One example of justifiable homicide is killing someone without malice or premeditation, in self-defense (see Justifiable Homicide Statistics).
Crimes Involving Homicide
Between 2013 and 2017(the most recent figures available), the FBI reported that there were 1,629 justifiable homicides in the United States.
These counts only include statistics for the killing of a felon during the commission of a crime by a citizen.
Murder and manslaughter both involve homicide, however, there are legal distinctions between murder and premeditated murder and charges of manslaughter. There is a further legal distinction between voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.
First-Degree Murder is a “specific intent” crime. This means the alleged murderer planned or intended to kill. In order to prove murder in the first degree, the prosecution must prove that intent.
Felony Murder and Manslaughter
In New Jersey, criminal offenses are not referred to as misdemeanors or felonies. Instead, crimes are categorized as disorderly persons offenses and indictable offenses like first, second-, third-, or fourth-degree crimes.
The prosecution does not need to prove intent in more serious cases. They only need to prove that a murder occurred during the commission of an indictable offense, or the attempt to commit a crime, or while fleeing a crime. A conviction results in prison time and fines up to $200,000. Murder can also be premeditated (planned in advance), which is a First-Degree Crime, or “murder by intent, but without deliberation or premeditation (Second-Degree murder.)
Manslaughter crimes are considered crimes of malice – not crimes of intent. This means the person may not have intended to kill or harm another person to cause death, but their actions were reckless and ignored or disregarded the danger of their actions.
Murder Defense FAQs
When accused of a violent crime as severe as murder, you undoubtedly have many questions. We’ve compiled a few of our most frequently asked questions to help clarify during this stressful time.
What’s the Difference Between Murder and Homicide?
Homicide refers to a person taking the life of another human being, regardless of circumstances and encompasses numerous charges including murder. For example, manslaughter or death by auto or vessel are also examples of homicide. According to Cornell Law School, not all homicides result in criminal charges when you can prove that the act is legally justified, such as self-defense.
Murder is the intentional killing of a human being by another person without any legal justification under NJ Rev Stat § 2C:11-3 (2013).
How Long Could You Go to Prison for Murder?
- Murder – Minimum sentence of 30 years imprisonment without parole and max sentence of life imprisonment with 30 years parole ineligibility. If the crime is particularly horrifying, or the victim was a police officer or someone under age 14, the punishment is life imprisonment without any possibility of parole.
- Manslaughter – Aggravated manslaughter results in a sentence of 10 to 30 years imprisonment. A heat of passion or reckless manslaughter results in a five to 10-year prison sentence.
- Vehicular Manslaughter – Prison terms range from five to 30 years.
Is New Jersey a Death Penalty State?
New Jersey abolished the death penalty on December 17, 2007. The state replaced capital punishment with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole as its harshest penalty.