Most Dead People Are Not Helpless – State v. Moon

Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.2, it is a crime of the third degree for a person to cause bodily injury to another and then leave the scene of the injury knowing that the injured person is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated or otherwise unable to care for himself. In today’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Moon, the Court was called upon to decide whether this statute applies when the bodily injury results in the death of the victim. In Moon, the defendant shot the victim with a pistol in the head causing immediate death. The defendant moved the body and then abandoned it in the street.

The Appellate Division ruled that the purpose of the statute is to prevent additional harm to living victims of bodily injuries. Accordingly, the concepts of helplessness, mental incapacity and an inability to care for one’s self do not apply to dead people. Accordingly, the defendant was not guilty of endangering an injured person.

Download a copy of State v. Moon.

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