Homicide and Murder Attorney
The homicide and murder classification are incredibly complex and often overlap. The differences among the types of homicide and murder are often difficult for many criminal attorneys and judges to understand. This can result in a person being charged improperly or even an innocent person being wrongly accused.
Murder and Homicide in Arizona: The Statistics
In 2011, there were 339 murders reported in Arizona. This statistic includes deaths that occurred as a result of an argument or fight, during the event of a crime, or in instances of assault. Murders in Arizona accounted for only one-tenth of one percent of the total offenses indexed by the state, and 1.4 percent of the violent crimes committed in Arizona during the year.
The vast majority of murders committed in Arizona during the year were due to causes the police could not identify or determine. In roughly half of the cases, handguns were used; knives and other cutting weapons were responsible for death in about 14 percent of cases. Most of the murders in Arizona – around half – were committed by friends, family members, or acquaintances during the year 2011.
If you are one of the hundreds of people accused of murder in the state, it is important that you understand your options so you can do everything possible to avoid the life-altering consequences of a conviction.
Classification of Murder or Homicide Charges
In Arizona, there are 4 classifications of homicide or murder. Each homicide or murder charge will apply if an unborn child dies as a result of conduct. An individual is always innocent of any charge until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Negligent Homicide
A person may be charged with this offense if they causing the death of a person while being criminally negligent. Conduct that is often charged as Negligent Homicide include vehicle accidents caused by texting while driving or doing something else unsafe while driving. Other potential conduct may include handling or storing a firearm in an unsafe manner. These examples may, however, also be considered manslaughter or even 2nd degree murder by the prosecution agency. While still very serious, Negligent Homicide carries fewer penalties than the other homicide or murder charges. Penalties range from probation up to 8 years in prison, but in most cases, probation will not be available and the minimum sentence is 4 years in prison.
- Recklessly causing the death of another person; or
- Intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another person, but doing so in the heat of passion from provocation of the deceased person; or
- Intentionally aiding another person to commit suicide; or
- Intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another person, but doing so while being coerced by deadly threats against the person or another person; or
- Knowingly or recklessly causing the death of an unborn child by any physical injury of the mother.
Often conduct which is properly manslaughter is charged as the higher 2nd degree murder charge. Manslaughter carries a prison sentence from 7 to 21 years.
- Second Degree Murder
A person may be charged with this offense if they intentionally or knowingly cause the death of another person or an unborn child without premeditation; or if through extreme indifference to human life, the person recklessly engages in conduct which causes the death of another person or an unborn child. 2nd Degree Murder carries a sentence of 10 to 25 years in prison.
- First Degree Murder
An individual may be charged with this offense if they intentionally or knowingly cause a death of another person, but did so with premeditation; or a person commits certain felonies and in the course of or in furthering the felony, or while fleeing the offense, the individual or another individual causes the death of another person. This is also referred to as felony murder. A person may also be charged with 1st degree murder if they intentionally or knowingly cause the death of a law enforcement officer who is in the line of duty without premeditation.1st Degree murder carries a life sentence which may either be natural life, or life without the possibility of parole; or life which will make the person eligible for parole after 25 years. There is no guarantee the person will be released on parole after 25 years. In addition to the prison sentence, every 1st degree murder charge is potentially a capital or death penalty.
The individual elected County Attorney in each county or the Attorney General make a decision whether or not to seek the death penalty on a case by case basis. In order to seek the death penalty, a 1st degree murder case must include the presence of at least one aggravating factor under ARS 13-751.
If you’ve been charged with any homicide or murder offense, it’s absolutely essential to get help from a criminal defense attorney with experience defending individuals facing the most serious charges levied by the state. The homicide attorneys at Rowley Chapman & Barney, Ltd. have extensive experience both prosecuting and representing individuals facing serious felony charges including homicide and murder. We understand the legal complexities of these cases and can use that experience to help you.
We are available 24/7. Please call us at (480) 833-2341 to schedule your FREE consultation or use our contact form below to send us an email to make an appointment today.