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Crimes of Passion and Provocation

March 30, 2016 | Posted In Criminal Law |

We all know what it’s like to do or say something in the heat of the moment when your anger or jealousy gets the better of you. In a crime of passion, the unexpected responses triggered by extreme emotions — anger, jealousy, rage, stress, etc. — can be handled in criminal court under New Jersey’s legal provisions for Passion/Provocation Homicide and Manslaughter.

Passion/provocation manslaughter cases typically involve murders or attempted murders that are driven by a person’s sudden rage. Motivated by this anger, the person usually takes no time to think through his or her emotional response, but instead acts without rationalizing or reasoning. When this happens, and the person had “reasonable provocation” for the emotional response, passion/provocation manslaughter charges are assessed and the courts weigh the criteria for these crimes against the circumstances that led to the crime.

What Counts in a Passion/Provocation Homicide?

If a person is charged under passion/provocation manslaughter laws, the defense lawyer has to prove that the following four elements were in play:

  1. The act that provoked the defendant would have enraged or incited a reasonable person to act in the heat of passion.
  2. The defendant was provoked.
  3. A reasonable person would have acted immediately and would have had no time to stop and think or calm down.
  4. The defendant did not calm down before reacting.

The prosecution, in turn, will need to prove that someone died and that the defendant caused that death. They will also need to prove that the defendant’s actions were a result of an emotional response in the heat of passion after being reasonably provoked.

What Penalties Come With a Crime of Passion?

If you are charged with passion/provocation manslaughter, you could face 5 to 10 years in a state prison. The fines for this second degree felony could be up to $150,000. A conviction for passion/provocation manslaughter is included under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act, which requires a person to serve 85 percent of his or her sentence before being eligible to apply for parole. While these penalties might seem intense, they are far less than the average sentences and fines for murder and aggravated manslaughter in the state.

Defend Yourself

One rash, impulsive action made in anger can change your life and the lives of your loved ones forever. If you are facing provocation or passion charges for a murder you committed in the heat of the moment, you need to take steps to protect yourself. Your actions will be scrutinized, along with the circumstances that caused you to lose control and act; so you want to make sure that your New Jersey criminal defense attorney can use the passion/provocation manslaughter laws in your defense. For more information on New Jersey’s laws regarding crimes of passion, contact the team at Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, today.

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