Current NJ Lawinfo@CompassionAndChoicesNJ.org
Current New Jersey Law
N.J.S. 2C:11-6 was enacted in 1979. It provides:
A person who purposely aids another to commit suicide is guilty of a crime of the second degree if his conduct causes such suicide or an attempted suicide, and otherwise of a crime of the fourth degree.
N.J.S. 2C:11-6 is based upon Section 2 of the Model Penal Code. ╔A crime of the second degree subjects the actor to State Prison sentence of up to ten years, and a fine of up to $150,000. A crime of the fourth degree subjects the actor to incarceration for└up to eighteen months, and a fine of up to $7,500. Note that even if no attempt is made, merely furnishing the means, such as a plactic bag or the requisite drugs, could expose one to the lesser penalty.
Substantially similar provisions exist in most other states.
N.J.S. 2C:3-7(e) provides:
Use of force to prevent suicide or the commission of a crime. The use of force upon or toward the person of another is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediatehy necessary to prevent such other person from committing suicide, inflicting serious bodily harm upon himself, committing or consummating the commission of a crime involving or threatening bodily harm, damage to or loss of property or a breach of the peace, except that:
- Any limitations imposed by the other provisions of this chapter on the justifiable use of force in self-protection, for the protection of others, the protecton of property, the effectuation of an arrest or the prevention of an escape from custody shall apply notwithstanding the criminality of the conduct against which such force is used; and
- The use of deadly force is not in any event justifiable under this subsection unless the actor reasonably believes that it is likely that the person whom he seeks to prevent from committing a crime will endanger human life or inflict serious bodily harm upon another unless the commission or the consummation of the crime is prevented and that the use of such force presents no substantial risk of injury to innocent persons.
This section permits one reasonably believing another person is about to commit suicide to use reasonable force to prevent the suicide, free of criminal liability for the use of such force. Does this allow a well-intentioned relative or friend to break into a terminally ill person's home, "kidnap" the dying person, and take him or her to a hospice in order to prevent an impending "self-deliverance"? Perhaps we need some clarification of this provision to bar any such action.