New Jersey Manslaughter Laws

Manslaughter typically does not arise out of a person's intent to cause death, but rather reckless conduct. For this reason, manslaughter is a second degree crime as compared to murder, which is a first degree crime. However, if a person kills another in the "heat of passion," that is considered a purposeful homicide resulting from “reasonable provocation.” The alleged provocation must be so egregious that it would cause an “ordinary reasonable person” to commit the type of violence that results in a fatality.

Types of Manslaughter Charges in New Jersey

In New Jersey, there are four (4) types of manslaughter charges-

1) Aggravated;

2) Aggravated by causing death while attempting to evade the police;

3) Reckless manslaughter;

4) Heat of passion death as a result of reasonable provocation.

Even if a person is charged with manslaughter in criminal court and is acquitted, the deceased’s family may file a wrongful death claim in civil court.

The following table highlights the main provisions of New Jersey's manslaughter laws. See also Involuntary Manslaughter Definitions, Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentences, and Voluntary Manslaughter.

Code Sections N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4

Aggravated Manslaughter, Aggravated (Causing Death By Attempting to Evade Police), Reckless Manslaughter, and Passion as a Result of Reasonable Provocation

What is Prohibited?
  • Recklessly causing the death of another under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life;
  • Causing the death of another while attempting to elude police;
  • An individual dies as a result of reckless conduct by the accused; and
  • A death is caused in the heat of passion resulting from reasonable provocation.
What is Considered "Reckless Conduct?"

A person acts recklessly when they consciously disregard a substantial risk and their actions are a gross deviation from a reasonable person acting with ordinary care.

Civil Case Possible Wrongful Death lawsuit and restitution to the victim's family.

Aggravated Manslaughter : First degree felony with a penalty of 10 to 30 years in prison depending on the circumstances and a maximum $200,000 fine.

Reckless or Heat of Passion : Second Degree felony, five (5) to ten (10) years in state prison and a fine that can reach $150,000.

All convictions trigger the No Early Release Act (PDF) (85% of the term imposed must be served before parole may be granted).

If you do find yourself facing a manslaughter charge, you may wish to contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney for assistance.

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