Responses to Murder Charges in NJ: Self-Defense & Reduced Charge of Manslaughter
Manslaughter, albeit a lesser crime than murder, is a criminal offense; whereas a true self-defense killing is not a crime. New Jersey citizens have the right to use force to protect themselves from harm if necessary. A defendant charged with manslaughter may consider a defense of self-defense if there is evidence that he or she honestly and reasonably believed that the use of force which resulted in death was necessary to protect his or her safety. If any evidence of self-defense exists, the court must acquit a defendant unless the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a claim of self-defense is not valid. The specific circumstances of each case, such as which party was the initial aggressor or which party escalated a violent altercation, will have a significant impact on the success of a self-defense defense.
Manslaughter is often mistakenly thought to be accidental killing. This is not true. If a death is purely accidental, no crime has been committed. In order for a prosecutor to make a charge of manslaughter stick, he or she must prove that one of the following criteria is true:
- The defendant’s negligent or reckless actions and disregard for risk caused another person’s death. This type of unintentional homicide is known as involuntary manslaughter.
- The defendant was strongly provoked and killed in the heat of passion without premeditation. This is known as voluntary manslaughter.
Examples of Involuntary Manslaughter and Voluntary Manslaughter
If a defendant drove his or her car while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and killed someone unintentionally, he or she could be charged with involuntary manslaughter because a death was caused by his or her recklessness, even though there was no intent to kill.
If a husband catches his wife in the act of adultery, and kills her and/or her lover on the spot, he may be charged with voluntary manslaughter rather than murder because he was provoked by the shock of the affair and killed in a fit of rage without premeditation.
Camden County Criminal Lawyer Jill R. Cohen Aggressively Defends Manslaughter Charges in New Jersey
If you have been formally charged with manslaughter in New Jersey, Camden County criminal lawyer, Jill R. Cohen, Esq., can review your case, build your defense against the criminal charges, and ensure the best possible outcome for your situation. As a former prosecutor, Jill Cohen has gained invaluable insight into how the state will build its case against you, and she has developed the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to offer you the best chance for a successful criminal defense against manslaughter charges in New Jersey. Call us or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Camden County criminal lawyer.
The Westmont criminal law offices of Jill R. Cohen, Esq. defend individuals facing criminal charges in New Jersey and Philadelphia in addition to those in Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Camden County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County, Salem County, Burlington County, Cumberland County, Mercer County, and Camden City.