Serving the Elizabeth NJ Superior Court & All Municipal Courts in Union County

Union County NJ Criminal Defense Lawyers

Over 100 Year of Combined Experience

Former County & Municipal Prosecutors




Gang Member Gets 27 Years In Elizabeth For Shooting in Plainfield

Elizabeth New Jersey Aggravated Manslaughter Defense Lawyers

Former County Prosecutors That Are Accomplished In Defending Union County Weapon Charges

Abdul Ward, an alleged gang member, was prowling Plainfield on March 2, 2015, in search for a rival gang leader. Upon finding him, Ward started shooting. In a nearby convenience store, Wilson Valdez hears shots fired. He moves to protect a 4-year-old girl who was in the store and was shot while attempting to shield the youth. Mr. Valdez later died.

The criminal lawyers at our firm defend homicide charges in Union County including manslaugher, aggravated manslaughter and murder of the first degree or second degree in Elizabeth and Plainfield New Jersey.This week, 26-year-old Ward, after pleading guilty to aggravated manslaughter last December, was sentenced to more than 27 years in prison for the senseless crime. According to the sentence imposed, Ward must serve at least 23 years of that 27-year sentence before he is eligible for parole. Ward is also a defendant in a far-reaching racketeering prosecution conducted by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, which resulted in charges against many gang members for identity theft, tax fraud and other charges.

Next to first-degree murder, aggravated manslaughter is one of the most serious types of criminal homicide. Let’s take a closer look at the criminal homicide statutes in New Jersey.

Homicide Crimes In Union County: Murder and Manslaughter

In New Jersey, the most serious crimes associated with killing another person are murder and manslaughter. The key distinction between the two crimes is the perpetrator’s state of mind.

Specifically, criminal homicide constitutes murder when the perpetrator purposely or knowingly causes death or serious bodily injury resulting in death. Accordingly, to constitute murder, the perpetrator’s state of mind must be that he either intended to kill (“purposeful”) or knew that his behavior would result in death (“knowing”).

By contrast, a criminal homicide constitutes aggravated manslaughter when the perpetrator recklessly causes death under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life.

Finally, criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter when it is committed recklessly or does something that would otherwise be murder but was committed in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation.

As you can see, it all comes down to state of mind. In the Ward case, it appears that aggravated manslaughter would apply because his conduct was so reckless (i.e., done without thought of the consequences) that he demonstrated extreme indifference to human life.

In addition, Ward’s conduct fits the crime of murder. His conscious object was to kill someone on that horrific March 2015 night. However, it is most likely that Ward was permitted to plead to a lesser charge – aggravated manslaughter – rather than murder because he agreed to plead guilty and avoid the cost and resources of a trial.

Possible Sentences for Murder and Manslaughter

Murder is a first-degree crime. The court must sentence a person convicted of murder to a minimum of 30 years with 30 years of parole ineligibility. If the victim is younger than 14 years old, the defendant must be sentenced to life without parole.

Aggravated manslaughter is also a first-degree crime. The sentencing range is 10 to 30 years in prison.  The fine for first degree aggravated manslaughter is $200,000.

Manslaughter is a second-degree crime. It carries a possible 10 to 20 year prison sentence and a fine of up to $150,000.

Union County Manslaughter Defense Lawyers

Gang activity, fighting, carrying guns; they are not as glamorous as it might seem in the movies or video games. In fact, if you get caught your life will change forever. To deal with the real world consequences of serious charges like manslaughter, you need a defense lawyer who has handled the most serious criminal cases in Union County. The eight criminal attorneys on the team at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have decades of experience representing people charged with serious offenses like manslaughter, aggravated assault and illegal handgun charges. Our lawyers have handled many complex cases just like yours and understand how to mount a powerful defense when the stakes are so high. Call 908-272-1700 for an immediately consultation with an accomplished attorney who can help you.

Related Union County Pages & Posts

Handgun Charges in Union County

Elizabeth NJ Money Laundering Defense Attorneys

Union New Jersey Homicide Lawyer