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New Jersey Second Degree Murder Laws

Whenever an individual kills a human being, it's considered a homicide. But merely committing the homicide doesn't necessarily mean that the act will be charged as a crime. For instance, in cases of self defense, accidents, or state sanctioned executions, the actions that normally would constitute a crime are justifiable and don't give rise to criminal charges. However, an unlawful homicide will yield either murder charges or manslaughter charges.

Difference between First Degree and Second Degree Murder

New Jersey murders are categorized as either murder in the first degree or murder in the second degree. It's critical to understand the definition for first degree murder because it affects the definition for second degree murder: All murders that aren't in the first degree are categorized as second degree murder. Second degree murder includes murders committed on impulse, murders resulting from the actor's intent to cause serious harm, and murders showing that the actor displayed a disregard for human life. Premeditation or deliberation is a factor that differentiates first degree murder from second degree murder, although it's not present in all first degree murders (for example, felony murder killings).

Overview of Prohibited Consensual Sexual Activity Laws

The chart below provides a summary of statutes related to New Jersey's second degree murder laws, including links to important code sections.


  • New Jersey Statutes 2C:11-3 (Murder)
  • New Jersey Statutes 2C:11-3C (Penalties: Restitution)


Penalties can include incarceration and/or fines for restitution for the victims, but the specific penalties will depend on the facts of the case and mitigating and aggravating factors such as the defendant's criminal history.

All convictions trigger the No Early Release Act (NERA) which states that the guilty party must serve 85% of the term before becoming eligible for parole.

Possible Defenses

  • Provocation or heat of passion can reduce the homicide to manslaughter
  • Self defense or defense of others
  • Insanity or diminished capacity

Related Offenses

  • Manslaughter: New Jersey Statutes 2C:11-4
  • Assault: New Jersey Statutes 2C: 12-1

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

New Jersey Second Degree Murder Laws: Related Resources

Need Help with a New Jersey Criminal Charge? Find an Attorney

New Jersey's second degree murder laws are complex and can be difficult to understand. If you're facing murder or any other felony criminal charges, then you could lose your freedom and good reputation if you're convicted. With so much at stake, it's in your best interests to consider discussing your case with an experienced attorney who can strongly advocate on your behalf. Contact a local criminal defense attorney immediately.

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