TRENTON – The Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously released bill A2712, which would upgrade a manslaughter charge to aggravated manslaughter, a first-degree crime.
Currently, a homicide committed in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation is considered manslaughter, which is a second-degree crime carrying a prison sentence between five and 10 years imprisonment, a $150,000 fine, or both.
A first-degree crime, however, is punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison, a $200,000 fine, or both.
Under this bill, a person convicted of aggravated manslaughter when it is committed in the heat of passion after he or she is provoked could be sentenced to an ordinary term of imprisonment between 10 and 30 years.
Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll, (R-25) of Morris Township, said while the bill is well meaning, he fears that it “can turn around and bite us in another one (case).”
Sherry Clemente, whose father was murdered by a brother, told the committee she believed the relative’s punishment was inadequate.
She believes changing the law would give the judge more leeway in passion provocation cases.
“Our hands were tied. We didn’t get the justice.”
She said changing the punishment is a matter of greater justice.
“If we don’t change it (the punishment), it could hurt more families like mine.”