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What’s the difference between manslaughter and murder in NJ?

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Manslaughter and murder sound a lot alike, but the two offenses are not the same despite sharing a few similar elements. However, an arrest for either offense requires an immediate response from defendants as they are both serious criminal charges.

In this post, we will discuss some of the elements of manslaughter charges in our state. Such information can help you build an effective defense against serious criminal charges in Hackensack and nearby New Jersey counties.

Types of manslaughter

In New Jersey, you could face one of four manslaughter charges. These are:

  • Aggravated manslaughter
  • Causing death while evading police (also aggravated)
  • Reckless manslaughter
  • Heat of passion death with reasonable provocation

Manslaughter charges typically arise when a death occurs without the element of intent. For example, say you are playing with your gun after a few drinks. The weapon discharges accidentally, killing a nearby person. In this example, your charges would likely fall into the reckless manslaughter category because you did not mean to harm anyone. However, your reckless disregard for safety (drinking and playing with weapons) resulted in a death, which typically leads to arrest.

As you might expect, aggravated manslaughter receives the harshest treatment by prosecutors. It is a first-degree felony in our state, punishable by a 10-to-30-year prison sentence and a fine that can soar into many thousands of dollars (up to $200,000).

In some situations, reckless behavior resulting in death may fall under the involuntary manslaughter category, a lesser charge with fewer consequences. For example, a death caused by driving while drunk may result in involuntary manslaughter charges.

We urge those facing serious criminal charges involving the loss of life to improve their understanding of state manslaughter charges. Taking this step can help you find the right advocate for you in your unique situation.