MURDER | MANSLAUGHTER | VEHICULAR HOMICIDE
Under the laws of New Jersey, a homicide is defined as the taking of someone else’s life by a human being. In and of itself, homicide is not necessarily a crime—a police officer may kill someone as a reasonable response to that person’s imminent threat to the safety of another person. A person may also kill someone in self-defense. In many instances, a death caused by carelessness or negligence is not a criminal act.
In this blog, we will look only at those homicides that may constitute a crime. As a general rule, there are three different crimes involving homicide:
- Vehicular homicide
MURDER IN NEW JERSEY
Homicide crimes are categorized in New Jersey based on “culpability,” or the degree of “blameworthiness” that can be attributed to the wrongdoer. One of the key ways in which culpability is established is through the determination of the perpetrator’s “state of mind” at the time of the killing. With murder, the homicide crime requiring the highest degree of culpability, the necessary state of mind is “intent.” When prosecuting a murder charge, the state’s attorney must show that the defendant intended to kill the victim, intended to cause serious bodily harm, or acted in a way that demonstrated a “reckless disregard for the value of human life.”
MANSLAUGHTER IN NEW JERSEY
In general, manslaughter involves a lesser degree of culpability than murder. It may involve intent, as with what is known as “voluntary manslaughter,” but that intent is customarily found to arise out of “the heat of passion” or as the result of an “irresistible impulse.” Though the triggering factor will not exculpate the defendant (serve as a defense to homicide), it is usually sufficient to lessen the nature of the charge.
A person may also be charged with involuntary manslaughter in New Jersey. That’s typically a situation where a person engages in reckless conduct that causes the death of another person.
VEHICULAR HOMICIDE IN NEW JERSEY
In New Jersey, you can be charged with the crime of vehicular homicide if you cause the death of another person while engaged in reckless driving of a motor vehicle or a boat. Certain acts may allow a jury to infer recklessness, such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, texting while driving or falling asleep at the wheel of a vehicle after staying up for 24 hours or more.
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