The Difference Between Felony Murder and Manslaughter, as Demonstrated by a Long Branch Man

March 8, 2011

So it would seem that Qumere McClendon, 24, of Long Branch got lucky on his acquittal of murder. Sadly for him, he was convicted on the counts of manslaughter and felony murder, in addition to numerous others to do with the case. This is a tough case for any attorney.

Any kind of murder is a felony. However, this is a specific name for a certain circumstance of murder. Felony murder states that if a murder occurs during the commission of another felony, say robbery, perhaps, then the party who committed the robbery is also responsible for the murder. This also applies to other crimes such as rape, arson, and kidnapping. Now here's where it gets interesting: if there are multiple people involved in the initial felony, each one of them is responsible for the subsequent murder... even if they did not have a hand in killing the victim!

For example, if two people rob a bank, and a bank teller is murdered in the process, the one who drove the car is just as indictable, for that murder as the one who actually shot the teller. The driver is as serious a criminal, in the eyes of the law, as the person who fired a gun or wielded a weapon in the robbery. Additionally, the penalties for a felony murder conviction are just as severe as those for actual murder in the state of New Jersey.

Murder and manslaughter are two different things. Murder, as it is defined, denotes certain malice involved with carrying out the act. While manslaughter is by no means an "innocent" act, the intent behind it is perceived to be one less malicious, less cold, and less absolute than that of murder. One could say that with murder, "he knew exactly what he was doing", and with manslaughter, "maybe he didn't know exactly, but had a pretty good idea." These legal distinctions, as you can see, can have a huge impact on the sentence imposed upon the Defendant. Further, a Defendant might not realize how serious some of his or her actions relating to another's crime can be in a legal sense. What is clear: The services of a criminal defense attorney are crucial in order to protect your rights if charged with a crime.