Defending Individuals Charged with Homicide in Haddonfield
Homicide is one of the most if not the most serious criminal charge that someone can face in New Jersey. A conviction can land you in prison for the rest of your life—or at least for many years to come. Aside from the potential penalties upon conviction, a homicide conviction can affect your personal and professional relationships, which can be extremely difficult, if not impossible to recover.
New Jersey homicide attorney Matthew V. Portella has spent many years defending individuals faced with serious criminal charges. Putting together a strong defense is one of the best ways to increase your chances of success at trial and possibly obtain a dismissal of your pending homicide charge—along with your entire case. Although some defenses may not be applicable to the facts of your homicide case, there will likely be other legal options that are open and available to you.
When you put your trust in the hands of our law firm, you can be sure that your case will receive the aggressive, detail-oriented, result-driven representation that it deserves.
Legal Definition of Homicide in New Jersey
Homicide is a very serious crime, set out by statute NJ Rev Stat § 2C:11-2. Consequently, a conviction can result in high penalties and fines. Simply speaking, a homicide is the killing of another human being. Although murder is a type of homicide crime, not every homicide crime is murder, as murder has its own criminal elements under statute NJ Rev Stat § 2C:11-3.
While some homicides are unlawful and unjustifiable acts, others are lawful, justifiable homicides. For example, if a person killed someone but was acting in self-defense at the time of the homicide, then the homicide might be deemed justifiable.
When it comes to proving that you committed an unjustifiable crime of homicide, the burden of proof rests with the attorney who is representing the State. However, before or during trial, your criminal defense lawyer might introduce a legal defense that negates one or more elements of the homicide crime.
Homicide defense attorney Matthew V. Portella understands that when it comes to homicide charges and convictions, everything is on the line. Attorney Portella can immediately set to work preparing a strong legal defense to advance in your criminal case on your behalf.
Types of Homicide Cases
New Jersey homicide cases run the gamut from first-degree murder charges to felony-murder to manslaughter charges. Many of these crimes carry significant penalties if you are ultimately convicted of them.
- First-degree murder – First-degree murder is a type of specific intent crime, and the state prosecutor has the burden of proving this specific intent at the criminal trial. To prove specific intent on the part of the accused, the prosecutor must demonstrate, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused premeditated the murder and intended or planned to kill the alleged victim in the case. First-degree murder convictions can result in 30 years to life in state prison, and certain circumstances can eliminate the possibility of parole.
- Second-degree murder – Second-degree murder is similar to first-degree murder, except that the latter does not include premeditation or planning as an element. A person could be charged with and convicted of second-degree murder if he or she intends to kill another person or cause that person to experience serious bodily harm.
- Felony-murder – The accused could be charged with the crime of felony-murder if he or she commits a crime during the commission of an inherently dangerous felony. To meet its burden of proof in a felony-murder case, the state prosecutor is not required to demonstrate intent on the part of the accused. Instead, the prosecutor need only prove that the murder happened while the accused was committing a felony, while he or she was trying to commit a crime, or while he or she was fleeing a crime. The penalties for felony-murder will be in addition to any penalties for the underlying felony offense.
- Manslaughter crimes – Instead of being charged with murder, an accused could be charged with manslaughter. Moreover, in some instances, the prosecuting attorney, as part of a plea deal, may agree to reduce a pending murder charge down to a manslaughter charge. Manslaughter crimes, generally speaking, involve malice rather than intent. To be charged with and convicted of manslaughter, the accused may not have intended to kill the alleged victim or cause him or her serious bodily harm. Instead, the accused must have acted in a grossly negligent or reckless manner, and in doing so, brought about the alleged victim’s death.
Manslaughter can be charged as a first-degree crime, which means a possible 10 to 30 years in prison and up to a $200,000 fine, or as a second-degree crime, which can mean 5 to 10 years in prison and up to a $150,000 fine. All homicide and murder crimes are subject to New Jersey’s No Release Act (N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2), which means that offenders must serve at least 85 percent of a sentence before the possibility of parole.
Haddonfield homicide attorney Matthew V. Portella can review your specific charge with you and may be able to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney for a reduced charge on your behalf.
Defenses to a Homicide Crime in New Jersey
Asserting a strong legal defense to your charge is one of the most important aspects of your case. Depending upon the circumstances surrounding your charge, you might be able to assert one or more of the following defenses:
- Alibi – You were somewhere else at the time the alleged homicide took place
- Lack of specific intent – In the case of a pending murder charge, that you lacked the specific and purposeful intent that was necessary for committing the crime
- Constitutional violations – That authorities violated your Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights against unlawful searches and seizures or self-incrimination, and that as a result, the court must exclude certain evidence which the prosecutor wants the jury to hear in your criminal case at trial
Consult a Haddonfield Homicide Lawyer About Your Charge Today
Even if you are not eligible to advance one of the defenses listed above, Haddonfield , New Jersey homicide defense attorney Matthew V. Portella can explore plea deal options, sentence reductions, and reduced penalties on your behalf.
All homicide charges are serious, and you do not want to be left trying to defend yourself alone in the courtroom. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation, please call the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, at (856) 310-9800 or contact us online to discuss the details of your specific charges.
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“I want to thank Mr. Portella for taking my case. What an amazing law office and attorney. He is very professional and got all of my charges dismissed. If I ever need an attorney again, Mr. Portella will be the one I call. Thank you again! -A.M.”>-Client