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If you have been charged with murder or another form of criminal homicide in New Jersey, you are facing life-changing consequences. In New Jersey, murder charges can carry a life sentence under certain circumstances, and at a minimum, you are facing 30 years without the possibility of parole. Even if you are facing a lesser homicide charge under New Jersey law, you are still facing years or decades of incarceration. Without the help of a New Jersey murder lawyer, you may be fighting a losing battle.
Even the most straightforward murder and homicide cases are extraordinarily complex. Consider a case where the defendant shot someone who fell down and died, and the shooting was clearly caught on video. Does the prosecution have an open-and-shut case? Not even close. An experienced New Jersey murder lawyer will be able to raise numerous questions capable of creating reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury. For example:
When facing a murder or homicide charge, you need to defend yourself by all means available. You cannot afford to assume that you will be found guilty, and you cannot afford to trust your case to inexperienced legal representation. At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, our criminal defense attorneys have centuries of experience defending clients in New Jersey’s criminal courts, and we can utilize this experience to protect you to the fullest extent possible.
Although the terms “murder” and “homicide” are often used interchangeably, murder has a specific definition under New Jersey law. Murder is the most serious form of criminal homicide – being charged as a first-degree indictable offense – while lesser homicide offenses are charged as manslaughter and can either be first-degree indictable offenses (with lesser penalties than murder) or second-degree indictable offenses.
In defining the crime of first-degree murder, New Jersey’s murder statute (N.J.S.A. § 2C:11-3) states:
“Except as provided in N.J.S.2C:11-4 [New Jersey’s manslaughter statute], criminal homicide constitutes murder when: (1) The actor purposely causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death; or (2)The actor knowingly causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death; or (3) It is committed when the actor . . . is engaged in the commission of, or an attempt to commit, or flight after committing or attempting to commit robbery, sexual assault, arson, burglary, kidnapping, carjacking, criminal escape or terrorism . . . and in the course of such crime or of immediate flight therefrom, any person causes the death of a person other than one of the participants.”
As a result, contrary to popular belief, proof of subjective “intent” is not necessarily required in order to establish criminal culpability for murder in New Jersey. If the prosecution can show that you knew what you were doing (i.e. pointing a gun and pulling the trigger), it does not need to prove that you subjectively intended to kill the person you shot. Additionally, if you caused death while committing or fleeing from the scene of another serious crime, then you can be convicted regardless of your mental state at the relevant time. This makes defending against murder charges in New Jersey particularly challenging, and it makes it particularly important to choose a defense lawyer who has specific experience fighting murder allegations.
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.
If a person is charged under passion/provocation manslaughter laws, the murder defense lawyer has to prove that the following four elements were in play:
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.
If you are charged with passion/provocation manslaughter, you could face 5 to 10 years in 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.
Under New Jersey’s murder statute, a conviction carries a minimum potential sentence of 30 years in prison without parole eligibility. However, the statute lists several “aggravating factors” that can raise the stakes to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. These aggravating factors include:
Regardless of the circumstances involved in your case, your New Jersey murder attorney can craft a defense strategy and fight vigorously to protect your freedom. Our defense lawyers are unwavering advocates and skilled litigators who have extensive records of protecting clients in complicated criminal cases throughout New Jersey. Whether the evidence proves that you are innocent or we need to pursue other defense strategies on your behalf, we can use our experience to convince the prosecutor, judge, and/or jury that you do not deserve to spend the next 30 years or more behind bars.
In order to protect you to the fullest extent possible, it is important that we speak with you right away so that we can advise you of your legal rights and deal with the police and prosecutors on your behalf. To speak with an experienced New Jersey murder lawyer in confidence, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how to reach you online now.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.