Manslaughter is one of the most serious crimes you can be accused of committing. Along with murder, manslaughter is a crime involving the killing of another person. The definition of the crime makes this offense less serious than the crime of murder, but a conviction can still mean years in prison, especially if you are charged with aggravated manslaughter.
The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s Atlantic City aggravated manslaughter defense lawyers represent the accused and fight to keep them out of jail before trial and fight their case to have charges dropped, dismissed, or reduced. For a free legal consultation on your case, call our attorneys today at (609) 616-4956.
Charges for Aggravated Manslaughter in Atlantic County, NJ
If someone dies under circumstances that indicate another person was criminally responsible, there will usually be criminal charges. The charges filed for the death will vary depending on the circumstances. In many cases, the government may charge you with murder and manslaughter until they can determine whether the facts support a murder charge or a reduction to manslaughter. In other cases, the charges will be more appropriate as manslaughter charges. One form of manslaughter you can be charged with is called “aggravated manslaughter.”
In New Jersey, murder is charged for intentional killings, whereas manslaughter is more appropriate for deaths caused by recklessness or “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life.”
The mental state of the killer during the death is one of the most important factors. If you are accused of intentionally deciding to kill, murder charges may be appropriate. However, if there was no intent to kill the victim, the police and prosecutors will look to see if there was recklessness or other evidence of a “guilty mind” (mens rea).
Circumstances that show indifference to the value of the victim’s life often involve serious recklessness. This might revolve around intentional choices that are extremely dangerous, even if they were not intended to cause death. This form of manslaughter is called aggravated manslaughter because the mental state of the actor shows a heightened level of culpability. In contrast, “manslaughter” without the “aggravated” modifier will be charged for deaths caused by simple recklessness or murder that involves adequate provocation to reduce the defendant’s guilt.
Aggravated manslaughter can also be charged if you were in the process of fleeing or eluding law enforcement when someone died because of the chase. This is known as a “strict liability” offense, where the actor’s intent plays almost no role in the appropriateness of the charges. Nonetheless, the charges are incredibly severe.
Penalties for Aggravated Manslaughter in Atlantic City
Penalties for charges vary greatly depending on the charges you face, and specific subsections of many criminal statutes carry different penalties for varying levels of the same crime. Manslaughter charges all come under N.J.S.A. § 2C:11-4, but there are 4 subsections of this statute:
- Aggravated manslaughter with disregard for human life
- Aggravated manslaughter for a death while eluding law enforcement
- Manslaughter for recklessness
- Murder reduced to manslaughter because of provocation
Manslaughter for reckless death and for provocation are both second degree crimes. Aggravated manslaughter carries higher penalties.
Both types of aggravated manslaughter are first degree crimes. A first degree crime in New Jersey is typically punished by 10-20 years in prison and fines up to $200,000. Aggravated manslaughter for a death while fleeing police carries these potential penalties. Aggravated manslaughter for killing under an extreme indifference to human life is a far more serious offense than the typical first degree crime and carries an increased penalty of 10-30 years in prison.
If your lawyer can get your aggravated manslaughter charges reduced to normal manslaughter charges, the potential penalties are lower. A second degree crime like manslaughter carries 5-10 years in prison and fines up to $150,000.
When charges involve a penalty with a range – such as 10-30 years in prison – it will be up to the judge to set the final penalties. Typically, a judge will set a penalty within the given range. However, a judge can issue a penalty lower than the statutory minimum under circumstances that show the standard penalty would be too harsh. Judges typically will not be able to increase penalties beyond the maximum.
When sentenced to prison, you may be eligible for parole. With a mandatory minimum of 10 years, you must typically serve the first 10 years – the mandatory minimum sentence – before becoming eligible for parole. If you are granted parole, you might be released from prison and allowed to serve the remaining years of your sentence out of prison under supervision by a parole officer. This can require you to report your address, agree to random searches of your property, and avoid additional crime. Violating the terms of parole can send you straight back to prison.
In most cases, aggravated manslaughter is seen as too serious of an offense to allow probation instead of prison. If probation is granted, you may be allowed to serve your time out of jail under supervision instead of serving time in prison before early release. Our attorneys will fight to keep your sentence low and work to avoid conviction altogether.
Call Our Atlantic City Aggravated Manslaughter Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one was charged with aggravated manslaughter in New Jersey, you will be entitled to the right to have an attorney represent you during your trial. The Atlantic City aggravated manslaughter defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych represent the accused and fight to keep them out of prison, even for serious charges like manslaughter. For a free legal consultation on your charges, call our attorneys today at (609) 616-4956.