As New Jersey Crumbles, Law Makers Discuss “Gay Panic” Laws

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File Photo, Mock murder scene.

 

TRENTON-Gay Panic may no longer be a viable defense to get  your murder sentence reduced in New Jersey thanks to lawmakers working diligently to stop the state from an impending economic collapse.

“This bill would prohibit the use of a so-called “gay panic” defense for the commission of murder.  The bill is intended to prevent a defendant from seeking the reduction of a murder charge to a charge of manslaughter committed in the heat of passion, allegedly provoked by the discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the homicide victim’s actual or perceived gender identity or expression, or affectional or sexual orientation.  Under current law, a homicide which would otherwise be murder is reduced to manslaughter if the jury finds that the homicide was committed “in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation.”  N.J.S.2C:11-4, subsection b., paragraph (2),” the bill reads.

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     A provoked, heat of passion manslaughter is graded as a crime of the second degree, ordinarily punishable by five to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $150,000, or both, while murder is a crime of the first degree, punishable by a term of imprisonment for a period ranging from 30 years to life, depending upon the circumstances of the act (see N.J.S.2C:11-3), a fine of up to $200,000, or both.

     The bill’s provisions would most notably prevent the use of the “gay panic” defense to seek a reduction to manslaughter under circumstances in which the homicide victim made an unwanted, non-forcible romantic or sexual advance toward the actor, or if the victim and actor dated or had a romantic or sexual relationship.

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 The measure was approved 74-0 in the state assembly this week.

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