A manslaughter charge comes with severe penalties. The circumstances of your case will largely determine the penalties you face. A judge is given some flexibility in their sentencing, so not every person found guilty will find themselves facing the maximum penalty.
The penalties for manslaughter in New Jersey are divided into three broad categories: Manslaughter, aggravated manslaughter, and vehicular manslaughter.
Here is a breakdown:
- Manslaughter is considered a felony of the second degree. If found guilty you could be facing between 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine as high as $150,000.
- Aggravated manslaughter in New Jersey is considered a felony of the first degree. If found guilty you could be facing between 10 to 30 years in prison and a fine as high as $200,000.
- Vehicular manslaughter in New Jersey is a common charge in drunk driving deaths, but it can also be charged when a death occurs because of reckless driving. If found guilty, you could face 5 to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $150,00, and a license suspension for a period between five years and life if you were driving under the influence.
What Defenses are an Option for a Manslaughter Charge?
You can defend yourself with several potential defenses against a manslaughter charge. Which defense will be the best for your specific case depends on the circumstances of your case. This is due to factors such as a defense of mistaken identity not being viable due to being caught on camera or identifiable through evidence or witness accounts.
Possible defenses for your manslaughter charge include:
- Insanity: A person is not criminally responsible for conduct if at the time of such conduct he was laboring under such a defect of reason, from the disease of the mind as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong. Insanity is an affirmative defense that must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence.
- Alibi or Mistaken Identity: You may have a mistaken identity defense if you have an alibi that places you away from the crime scene.
- Self-Defense: self-defense is the right of a person to defend against any unlawful force. Self-defense is also the right of a person to defend against seriously threatened unlawful force that is actually pending or reasonably anticipated. When a person is in imminent danger of bodily harm, the person has the right to use force or even deadly force when that force is necessary to prevent the use against them of unlawful force. The force used by the defendant must not be significantly greater than and must be proportionate to the unlawful force threatened or used against the defendant.
- Negligence or Accident: Manslaughter requires recklessness. You may be able to show that the person acted negligently or that it was an accident.
What is Considered Manslaughter in New Jersey?
Manslaughter is a criminal charge and a type of homicide—but one that is unique compared to the others in that category, like murder. It is defined under The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice Section 2C:11-4. The main distinguishing feature for the charges to be considered manslaughter is that the death is caused through recklessness rather than knowing or purposeful. A quick note: a murder in the heat of passion may be considered manslaughter depending on what provoked the heat of passion.
A manslaughter charge can be elevated to aggravated manslaughter. Like with other aggravated crimes, it requires that certain elements be present in the case. One circumstance which will elevate a manslaughter charge to aggravated manslaughter is that the defendant showed extreme indifference to human life. Moreover, aggravated manslaughter may be charged if the actor causes the death of another person while fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer in violation of N.J.S.2C:29-2b.
A manslaughter charge results in a legal battle wherein it is the prosecution’s job to show that the defendant acted recklessly. This means they have to show that you consciously disregarded the risks of your actions. This is an important piece to keep in mind when crafting your defense.
How Can the Bianchi Law Group Help?
It is essential to know that any Murder or Manslaughter charge in New Jersey is severe and can result in you receiving life-changing penalties. Having the right legal team can provide you with the maximum benefits.
The Bianchi Law Group is a criminal defense firm in New Jersey made up of a team of Former Prosecutors. Our firm primarily focuses on Criminal Defense, Domestic Violence, DUI/DWI, and Municipal Court cases. Our team of former prosecutors has prosecuted a wide range of criminal and domestic violence cases and now represent clients in criminal defense and domestic violence restraining order hearings.
Certified Criminal Trial Attorneys and Trusted by the Media
The Bianchi Law Group partners Robert (Bob) Bianchi and David Bruno are certified along with only 250 New Jersey attorneys as certified criminal trial attorneys by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Bob and Dave regularly appear as national legal analysts to comment and debate on major news networks such as Court TV, the Law and Crime Network, Fox News, CNN, HLN, MSNBC, and Fox Business.
Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss how we can potentially assist you with your upcoming case or investigation.