Murder and other violent crimes, such as homicide, manslaughter, assault, sexual crimes, or robbery, are some of the most serious crimes a person can be charged within New Jersey. If you have been charged with murder or another violent crime, you need a knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense attorney on your side throughout your case. Attorney Brian J. Neary has represented criminal defendants facing serious charges for over 35 years and is ready and willing to represent you in your criminal case today.
Murder and Attempted Murder under New Jersey Law
Under New Jersey law, murder refers to the intentional taking of the life of another person or causing fatal injuries. Murder is a first-degree crime and can be charged under the following circumstances:
- The defendant purposely or knowingly killed someone or caused serious bodily injuries that resulted in death.
- The defendant caused the death of a person during an attempt or commission of certain serious felony crimes, such as kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, terrorism, arson, and more.
New Jersey does not require that someone had previously planned a killing to charge them with murder – only that in the moment, they intended to cause the death. In the second type of murder, called “felony-murder,” the killing does not even have to be intentional. If they are intentionally committing another serious felony and death results, they can be charged with felony-murder even if they never intended for that death to occur.
Attempted murder, on the other hand, is a totally separate offense under New Jersey law. In order for someone to be charged with attempted murder, the following must be true:
- The accused intended to kill someone
- The accused must have taken a substantial step toward the full commission of the crime
- The alleged victim must not have died
In New Jersey, a “substantial step” requires more than mere planning or arranging for a murder. Rather, the accused must have taken some sort of direct action to put the plan into motion. This means that – absent some outside factor or distraction – the murder would have likely taken place as planned. Examples of substantial steps include paying off a “hit man” to murder someone or using a weapon or knife against someone with the intention of murdering that person – but without the alleged victim actually dying.
Understanding Violent Crimes in New Jersey
Violent crimes are “crimes against humanity” that involve the use of force and cause or attempt to cause injury to another. Violent crimes include:
- Sexual assault
- Simple assault
- Aggravated assault
Assault is one of the more common types of violent crime charges that people face. However, no violent crime charges should ever be taken lightly and it is critical to seek qualified defense representation as soon as possible. A conviction for a violent crime in New Jersey may result in a hefty fine, lengthy prison sentence, and/or compensation (restitution) paid to the alleged victim, among other penalties, so it is imperative to protect your rights throughout the criminal process.
Self-defense and the Use of Deadly Force
When it comes to murder and other violent crimes, claims of self-defense are common to defend against the charges. Self-defense acknowledges that a violent act occurred, however, under the circumstances, the defendant may have been justified in using deadly or non-deadly force in order to repel another person’s imminent use of force.
In determining whether self-defense was justified under the circumstances, the jury will have to determine whether a defendant reasonably feared imminent harm and whether an appropriate amount of force was used. The amount of force is commonly examined in homicide cases regarding whether deadly force was justified.
Deadly force may be deemed permissible under some of the following circumstances:
- The person reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent the commission of a forcible felony—or to prevent death (or great bodily harm) to himself or to someone else.
- The person is resisting an attempted murder (or attempted commission of another felony) against him or her that takes place in a “dwelling house.” An aggressor who enters another’s vehicle or home by force is presumed to be doing so with the intention of committing an unlawful or violent act therein.
Self-defense is a complicated legal concept and it requires a skilled defense attorney to successfully prove that you were justified in your use of force.
Effects of a Violent Crime Conviction in New Jersey
A conviction for any crime of violence can have a significant impact on the life of the accused, including placing limitations on that person’s freedom, associations, and future. Possible penalties for violent crime convictions may include heavy fines, restitution, community service, probation, or incarceration – including life in prison for murder convictions. All sentences for violent offenses require a person to serve 85% of the imposed sentence.
Obviously, a violent crime conviction involving a prison sentence severely impacts the accused’s freedom. However, being convicted of a lesser violent crime can also result in job loss or may keep a prospective employee from obtaining a job – since current and prospective employers routinely check the criminal histories of their employees and job applicants.
It is extremely important to have an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney involved in every aspect of your case. A criminal defense attorney will be able to unearth helpful facts in order to try and have your charges dropped or—at the very least—reduced. You need someone in your corner who will thoroughly investigate all of the potentially favorable facts and evidence in your criminal case.
Contact a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Consultation
If you have been charged with committing a murder or another violent crime, you need a New Jersey criminal defense attorney safeguarding your rights throughout the process. The zealous defense team at the Law Offices of Brian J. Neary knows how to aggressively defend against serious criminal charges to reduce or eliminate the consequences our clients face.
To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer, please call us today or contact us online.