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Self-Defense, Murder, or Manslaughter? A Brief Guide to NJ Law

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2019 | Firm News

Murder, self-defense, and manslaughter are often closely tied together. The differentiation between the three is sometimes hard to discern because of the principles that separate self-defense from an unlawful criminal assault or killing. So when is a killing justified, and when is it criminal? Here’s a brief run-down of how each is defined in New Jersey.

Self-Defense: An Overview

New Jersey law says that “the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.” Simply put, if you feel that you are in harm’s way and believe someone is going to administer severe bodily harm to you, you possess a legal right to use force to defend yourself.
The self-defense laws also cover defense of others. The same principle applies: if you see someone else in apparent or actual danger of serious harm or death, you can use force to defend them.
Defense of your home or residence is a little more tricky. Some states have basic, sweeping “Stand Your Ground” laws that protect a homeowner, but New Jersey law is a little different. You do have the right to protect your home, but you must first ask the intruder to leave. If such a request is useless or would put people or property in harm’s way, this requirement can be waived.
It all depends on the circumstances of the encounter. For this reason, it is always a good idea to consult a criminal defense attorney.

Murder and Manslaughter

If your actions don’t fall under the protections of self-defense laws, you can be charged with manslaughter or even murder. The major difference between the two charges is intent. When a person knowingly and purposefully kills another person or causes substantial bodily harm that the person later dies due to the injuries that were inflicted, that is murder. Manslaughter is defined as causing the death of someone else through reckless conduct. An important part of the NJ manslaughter law has to do with “heat of passion” killings with provocation. The facts of the case can complicate this “heat of passion” manslaughter charge with a legitimate self-defense case. Once again, it’s so important to contact a criminal defense attorney who knows the law.

Contact an Experienced Camden Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Murder or Manslaughter Charges in New Jersey

Were you arrested or charged with murder or manslaughter in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen has successfully represented clients charged with murder and manslaughter in Cherry Hill, Winslow, Collingswood, Lindenwold and throughout New Jersey. Call 856-242-7177 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 210 Haddon Avenue Westmont, NJ 08108.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.