Whenever an individual’s actions result in death of another person, there is a homicide investigation. If the conduct was reckless, a manslaughter charge may be filed. This offense comes in two forms, manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter. Manslaughter is a second degree crime while aggravated manslaughter is a first degree crime. Both varieties are prosecuted by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office in the Superior Court located in Elizabeth NJ. At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall we have the experience and resources necessary to prove your innocence and avoid a manslaughter conviction. Contact our Cranford Office for a complimentary case evaluation. Attorneys can be reached anytime at 908-272-1700.
How Does Manslaughter Differ From Murder?
Both murder and manslaughter fall under the umbrella of homicide offenses. What differentiates the two is the intent of the offender. Murder is the relevant criminal charge when the accused purposely or knowingly causes the death of another. Conversely, manslaughter applies where someone is killed as a result of reckless conduct. In order to establish that an individual’s conduct was reckless, the State must show a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death or serious injury. In addition, the risk must be of such a degree that, considering the nature and purpose of the conduct and the circumstances known to the accused, its disregard involved a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the defendant’s situation.
What Are The Circumstances Under Which Someone Can Be Charged With Manslaughter or Aggravated Manslaughter?
The offense of manslaughter is contained at N.J.S.A 2C:11-4 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. In accordance with 2C:11-4, aggravated manslaughter (1 & 2) and manslaughter (3 & 4) charges arise under the following circumstances:
- Recklessly causes the death of another under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to value of human life;
- Death results during the course of an attempt to elude police;
- Death results as a result of reckless conduct of the accused; and
- Where a murder is committed in the heat of passion resulting from reasonable provocation.
Is Driving While Intoxicated “Reckless” For Purposes of the Manslaughter Law
Yes. In fact, the criminal codes creates a presumption of recklessness when someone operates a motor vehicle or boat in violation of the driving while intoxicated statute. This results in a separate variety of manslaughter offense known as death by auto/vehicular homicide.
Can Someone Commit Manslaughter For Failing To Act?
The answer is a conditional “yes”. The reason is because, while someone may be found guilty for manslaughter based on a failure to prevent injury/death, it can only attach where the defendant possessed a duty to perform the act. For example, when a parent fails to provide medical attention knowing there is a significant risk of death to their child, they may be charged with violating 2C:11-4, as well as endangering the welfare of a child.
Penalties for Manslaughter
As mentioned above, there are two forms of this offense set forth under 2C:11-4 and they are manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter. Aggravated manslaughter is a first degree crime and manslaughter is a second degree crime. First degree aggravated manslaughter carries a jail term of ten (10) to thirty (30) where it is the result of extreme indifference to the value of human life. When aggravated manslaughter is committed to the course of attempting to elude police, the offense carries a term of imprisonment between ten (10) and twenty (20) years. The maximum fine for aggravated manslaughter is $200,000. Second degree manslaughter will expose you to a prison term of five (5) to ten (10) years and a $150,000 fine, if convicted. A manslaughter conviction also always triggers the No Early Release Act (“NERA”), which imposes a mandatory term of parole ineligibility of 85%. This means is that you would have to serve a minimum period in jail of seventeen (17) years on a twenty (20) year sentence.
Manslaughter Defense Lawyers, Elizabeth NJ
Our attorneys have over 100 years of collective experience defending complicated charges like manslaughter. We know that we can help you avoid and/or minimize the penalties you are currently facing and encourage you to contact us. Initial consultations are complimentary and we can be reached 24/7 at 908-272-1700.