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How does a person get charged with second-degree murder?

On Behalf of | Nov 4, 2022 | Criminal Defense

One of the homicide crimes residents of New Jersey could face is murder. Second-degree murder is considered an intentional killing without premeditation. These crimes always require the strongest defense possible.

How a person could be charged with second-degree murder

Second-degree murder is a homicide crime that occurs when a person kills someone else. However, unlike first-degree murder, the crime does not involve any premeditation. The perpetrator might intend to kill the victim, but they do not plan to do so before the act itself.

How second-degree murder differs from first-degree murder

With second-degree murder, the perpetrator’s mental state is different compared to that of someone who commits first-degree murder. This makes it more of an impulsive crime. However, it’s also different from another type of homicide, manslaughter, as it doesn’t involve a killing occurring in the heat of passion.

Penalties for second-degree murder

The sentence given for second-degree murder depends on various factors. One is whether the person has a criminal history. In that situation, the penalties can be harsher. With no prior criminal history and certain circumstances of the case, it’s possible for the individual’s sentence to be lessened. However, for a conviction of second-degree murder, it’s common for the defendant to be given a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

The No Early Release Act (NERA) could impact when a person convicted of second-degree murder is eligible for parole. This law requires the individual to serve at least 85% of their prison sentence before parole eligibility.

Defenses to second-degree murder

A common defense to second-degree murder is arguing that the defendant was provoked or in the heat of passion. This could reduce the charges to manslaughter.

Self-defense or the defense of others may be used in some situations.

Another defense to second-degree murder charges is to claim insanity.

Regardless of degree, murder is always a serious criminal charge that’s life-altering.