What Are The Differences Between Murder and Manslaughter in NJ?

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Have you been accused of ending another person’s life? If so, please read on, then contact an experienced Mercer County violent crime lawyer to learn the differences between murder and manslaughter in NJ.

How are murder and manslaughter defined in New Jersey?

When a person kills someone, regardless of intent or other details surrounding the incident, it is generally considered a homicide. In the Garden State, murder is when a person knowingly and purposefully kills another person or causes substantial bodily harm that the other person later dies due to the injuries that were inflicted. A defendant may be charged with “felony murder” if another person dies while the defendant was allegedly committing arson, burglary, carjacking, criminal escape, kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault or an act of terrorism.

On the other hand, 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 person 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.

How are the penalties for murder and manslaughter different in NJ?

Both of these crimes are serious offenses. That being said, the penalties will vary wildly based on the degree and unique circumstances of your alleged offense. They are as follows:


  • A conviction for a felony in the second degree
  • A prison sentence of 10 to 20 years
  • A fine of up to $150,000

Aggravated manslaughter:

  • A conviction for a felony in the first degree
  • A prison sentence of 10 to 30 years
  • A maximum fine of $200,000


  • A conviction for a felony in the first degree
  • A maximum prison sentence of 30 years to life

While the Garden State no longer sentences convicts to or carries out the death penalty, you would be well-advised to retain the services of a skilled Mercer County criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with either crime. Our seasoned legal professional will gather the facts and evidence of your case and develop a tailored strategy to help you avoid decades, or even the rest of your life, behind bars, so do not hesitate to give us a call today.


Here at the Law Office of Douglas Herring, we believe that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to due process. No one facing a criminal matter should proceed without a competent attorney on their side. We are here to listen to your case, determine the best strategy going forward, and fight for your rights. Contact us today so we can get started.

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