In most courthouses, the crime of murder can be defined as an unlawful and intentional killing committed with malice aforethought. Although “malice aforethought” is included in this definition, many times courts will not require the prosecutor to prove that the offender committed the crime because of a preexisting hatred of the victim. Although, if the offender had the intention to kill another person outside of self defense or in the line of duty, “malice aforethought” exists. Additionally “malice aforethought” will exist if the offending party chooses to demonstrate an extreme and complete disregard for others lives resulting in the death of another person or if the killer intentionally causes extreme bodily harm also resulting in the victim’s death. Most modern murder cases are not determined by common law but rather statute that has evolved from common law yet now contain many new distinctions within the law such as the division of murder into “degrees”.
Manslaughter in New Jersey
Although manslaughter is connected to murder, it is a separate crime that is dealt with significantly different than murder. While both crimes involve the killing of others, murder deals with the factor of malice while manslaughter may be unintentional. In a courtroom the difference between the two crimes can often be boiled down to whether or not the jury believes that the defendant committed the killing with malicious intent or not
Although being charged with a murder is an extremely serious scenario, the law divides this crime into first and second degree murder. Slight variation exists between state laws that distinguish first degree murder from second degree murder although for the most part, first degree murder is constituted by deliberation and premeditation. Additionally, a first degree murder may occur during the act of a felony often called a felony murder. If, while during the course of of committing a felony, a person is killed because of the offending parties dangerous actions, they can be charged with felony murder.
It is common for state law to have in place a mandatory minimum sentence for a person convicted of murder. Since second degree murder is considered to be the lesser offense, it often requires a lower minimum sentence than a first degree murder conviction would. Additionally, some states allow for the death penalty to be included in the options presented for sentencing. Alternatively, states that do not use the death penalty may sentence a person to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Consult with an NJ Attorney Immediately
Being charged with murder is extremely serious and can have a permanent effect on a person’s criminal record and life. If you have been charged with murder it may be in your best interest to consult with a committed New Jersey attorney with years of experience dealing with murder cases. An experienced attorney will be able to understand and navigate the law. Contact John W. Tumelty today so that we may get started working on your case and get the best result possible for you.
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.