First-degree murder imposes the potential of a 30-year sentence or life in prison, and you can be charged with felony murder if you accidentally kill someone during the course of committing another crime. If you are facing homicide charges, it is essential that you find the right legal representation.

Three Categories of Homicide

If a person kills someone else, it is usually referred to as a homicide, regardless of the intent and circumstances surrounding the situation. That does not mean that every homicide results in criminal charges. For example, certain instances of self-defense or homicide as a result of an accident may not warrant charges.

If the homicide was planned or committed on purpose, it is considered murder.

New Jersey Criminal Homicide Law has three categories:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Death by Auto

First Degree Murder vs. Second Degree Murder

Murder charges are classified as either first-degree or second-degree murders, and the primary distinction between the two categories is premeditation or deliberation. In New Jersey, murder is a first-degree crime, and the NJ Criminal Homicide Law has three forms of murder:

  1. Purposeful
  2. Knowing
  3. In the course of committing, or attempting to commit, certain felonies

In purposeful or knowing murder, the state must prove:

  • A person has died
  • The defendant caused the death or caused serious injuries that resulted in death
  • The defendant acted purposefully or knowingly, e.g., using a deadly weapon capable of killing, such as a knife or gun

An exception to rule in distinguishing between first- and second-degree murders that will result in first-degree murder charges is if the homicide was committed during the perpetration or attempted perpetration of another crime such as:

  • Arson
  • Burglary
  • Carjacking
  • Criminal escape
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery
  • Sexual assault
  • Terrorism

Penalties for First Degree Murder in New Jersey

In New Jersey, the penalty for murder in the first degree is 30 years to life in prison.

In certain circumstances, such as killing an on-duty police officer or someone under 14 years old, the penalty is life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Penalties for Second Degree Murder in New Jersey

Aggravating factors — aspects of the situation such as criminal history that increase the length of sentencing — and mitigating factors — which generally lessen the sentence — play an important role in the penalties for second-degree murder. This is because sentencing guidelines allow for a range of sentencing, generally around 15 years to life in prison.

Defending a Murder Charge

Only a very select number of criminal defense attorneys have the knowledge, skill, and experience to successfully defend a homicide charge. The law offices of Carlos Diaz-Cobo has a proven track record of passionately handling these cases and getting acquittals or significantly downgraded resolutions.

The law offices of Carlos Diaz-Cobo is experienced and committed to successfully defending individuals accused of murder. Call the Law Offices of Carlos Diaz-Cobo at 732-249-1125.