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What is felony murder in New Jersey?

It can be hard for some people to come to terms with the fact that there are different classifications for the act of one person killing another person. For most people, murder is murder. But, as we have all seen in high-profile criminal cases that get covered extensively in the news across the country, there are a wide variety of factors that could change a homicide charge to something else, like manslaughter. In most cases, it all boils down to "intent," although there is no doubt that they are all violent crimes. In New Jersey and many other states, there is a classification known as felony murder." Our readers are probably wondering, "What is felony murder and how is it different from a regular homicide charge"?

Felony murder is a distinct classification of homicide that is dependent on the suspect's behavior and criminal deeds in an ancillary capacity to the actual murder. But again, it comes down to intent. A person can be charged with felony murder in New Jersey if that person is actually committing another serious crime and, while engaged in that criminal act or fleeing from the criminal act, the person kills another person.

For instance, if a person is committing a serious crime like robbery, kidnapping or arson and, during the commission of the crime, that person kills another person - even accidentally - then the suspect can be charged with felony murder. This kind of situation can arise when a criminal suspect is planning one crime but perhaps gets caught in the act and the suspect starts to shoot their way out.

Felony murder is its own distinct classification of homicide in New Jersey. Any criminal defense law firm in the state would likely be able to tell our readers that there may be a number of defenses to this type of charge, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Source: FindLaw, "New Jersey First-Degree Murder Laws," Accessed July 4, 2015

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