What is the Law on Manslaughter in New Jersey and What are the Punishments for it?
Manslaughter does not arise out of the deliberate intent of a person to cause death. Manslaughter refers to a person causing the death of a person through his reckless conduct. Manslaughters are punished differently from regular murders in the state of New Jersey. The law regarding manslaughter is codified in the N.J.S.A. (New Jersey Statutes Annotated) 2C:11-4.
There are two types of manslaughter charges in the state of New Jersey.
Aggravated Manslaughter in New Jersey
Aggravated manslaughter is the most serious manslaughter charge in New Jersey. It refers to a person causing the death of another person while showing total indifference to human life. The above definition of aggravated manslaughter is vague. However, this simply means that the actions of a person lead to a high probability of another person’s death.
Punishment for Aggravated Manslaughter in New Jersey
Aggravated manslaughter is considered to be a crime of first degree. It attracts the most serious punishments awarded to convicts for any crimes committed in New Jersey. Aggravated manslaughter is punishable by imprisonment ranging between 10 to 30 years and a fine of $200,000. Aggravated manslaughter caused while escaping a police officer is punishable by death.
This generally occurs during the high-speed pursuit of criminals after committing acts like robberies and shootings. In some cases, aggravated manslaughter caused while escaping a police officer is also punishable by a prison sentence ranging between 10 to 20 years and a fine of $200,000. The decision to award a death penalty depends upon the jury or the judge ruling on the case.
Second Degree Manslaughter in New Jersey
A person will be charged with second-degree manslaughter when he causes the death of another person by acting recklessly. Second-degree manslaughter is considered a less serious crime than aggravated manslaughter. Second-degree manslaughter also includes homicides committed in the heat of passion.
Homicides caused in the heat of passion means those caused by reasonable provocation and without giving the accused any reasonable chance to ‘cool off’. A good example of second-degree manslaughter is a husband finding his wife in an intimate position with another man and reacting violently.
Punishment for Second Degree Manslaughter in New Jersey
Second-degree manslaughter is punishable by imprisonment ranging between 5 to 10 years. The convict will also be fined for an amount of $150,000.
Involuntary Manslaughter in New Jersey
Involuntary manslaughter differs from voluntary manslaughter basing on the circumstances surrounding the death of a person. While voluntary manslaughters result from a provocation, involuntary manslaughters are chiefly caused by the negligence or recklessness of a person.
A good example of involuntary manslaughter under the law of New Jersey is the death caused by the negligent driving or driving while intoxicated. While deciding on the involuntary manslaughter cases, New Jersey courts rely on the reasonable person standard to decide whether the accused should have been aware of the risks that their actions have.
Punishment for Involuntary Manslaughter in New Jersey
In the state of New Jersey, the punishment for involuntary manslaughter is imprisonment ranging between 5 to 10 years and a fine of $150,000. Additionally, if a person is convicted of involuntary manslaughter while driving a vehicle in a negligent manner, his driving license could be suspended for a period of 2 years.
Applicability of NERA for Manslaughter Punishments
The law of New Jersey has provisions to ensure that convicts of manslaughter do not get out of prison quickly. All the manslaughter punishments received by a person come under the New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA). According to the provisions of NERA, all the convicts should serve 85 percent of their sentence before they become eligible for parole.