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Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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The Different Degrees of Murder


Because a crime can be complicated, the laws have been written to accurately and appropriately categorize the weight of a crime. Murder is no different – this is why murder is separated into various degrees. Each one has its own severity and possible outcomes for those who are convicted.

First-Degree Murder

Also known as capital murder, first-degree murder is the most severe of the three different degrees. First-degree murder is often pre-meditated or planned, and carried out deliberately. In other words, the murder is carried out on purpose, be it with or without a motive. The penalty for first-degree murder in the state of New Jersey is 35 years to life in prison, without parole in the case of killing a police officer on duty , or a child under the age of 14-years old.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder is the act of killing without premeditation. While this kind of murder is not planned, it is intentional and is carried out without just cause. Different situations can fall under the category of second-degree murder, such as a killing that shows an assailant’s disregard for human life or even impulsively killing a person with intent.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Often referred to a “crime of passion”, voluntary manslaughter is often the result of an aggravated attack intended to cause a person bodily harm to the point of death or simply killing a person in the heat of a moment.  The murder was not necessarily planned, but was ultimately intended. Another facet of voluntary manslaughter is known as “Imperfect Self Defense”. In these cases, the person who killed another did so in self-defense, but out of irrational fear.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter is the act of killing a person unintentionally through one’s own recklessness or negligence. For example, a common case of involuntary manslaughter is a death that occurs as a result of someone driving under the influence.

Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer to Fight Your NJ Murder Charges

Don’t face your murder charges alone. If you are facing criminal charges associated with murder, contact John Tumelty today. John Tumelty is a former prosecutor who knows how the other side thinks and prepares murder and homicide cases. Contact our law office today to schedule your consultation.

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