If you are charged with committing a homicide, you know that you face the harshest penalties under Arizona law, and the outcome of the case will forever change your life. A guilty verdict will land you in prison for many years, and in some cases, may result in the death penalty, depending on the type of homicide.
When the stakes are high, you must have an experienced advocate in court fighting for you. This is where a Mesa homicide lawyer steps in to help you. Our aggressive attorneys at the Grand Canyon Law Group will leave no stone unturned in their quest to obtain the best outcome for your case. To begin discussing the details of your matter, call today to schedule a consultation.
The Arizona Criminal Code Section 13-1101 uses the term ‘homicide’ as an umbrella term for several offenses in which an unlawful act results in someone’s death. In order of severity, homicide could be first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide.
Prosecutors who charge defendants with first-degree murder believe they can prove an intention killing with premeditation, which means the defendant planned the murder or knew that the actions taken would result in the death, but with time to reflect, committed the crime anyway. Defendants are also charged with first-degree murder if they kill a police officer on duty or commit felony murder. Felony murder occurs when someone is killed, either intentionally or unintentionally, during the commission of certain felonies including:
The State of Arizona can seek the death penalty in first-degree murder cases, which are known as capital cases. Defendants sentenced to the death penalty are granted an automatic appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. Although felony murder does not require premeditation, a defendant who did not intend to kill anyone could use it as a mitigating factor at trial. An attorney with experience in handling local homicide cases will explore all mitigating factors and defenses that could help your case.
Second-degree murder is not premeditated, and the defendant’s state of mind, or mens rea, will figure prominently at trial. Intentionally causing death, causing death knowing that the conduct would lead to death or at least to serious injury, or acting with extreme indifference to human life resulting in a death are the foundations for second-degree murder charges. An example would be a defendant who kills partygoers after repeatedly firing a gun through a window of a home where a party is being held. A first-time offender sentenced on a second-degree murder charge is guilty of a Class One felony and will likely be sentenced from 10 to 25 years in prison.
A charge of manslaughter usually arises when someone recklessly causes another person’s death, such as during an argument that spirals out of control. Manslaughter can also be charged if someone causes an unborn child’s death by committing a battery on the mother or assisting someone in committing suicide. Manslaughter is a Class Two felony and convicted first-time offenders may be sentenced from seven to 21 years in prison. Since there are similarities in the law concerning second-degree murder and manslaughter, you should enlist the services of a homicide attorney at Grand Canyon Law Group to review the facts of your case.
Negligent homicide occurs when a defendant fails to recognize a significant and unjustifiable risk that amounts to a gross deviation from what a responsible person would see as a considerable risk, and someone dies. For example, a parent who leaves a baby alone in a car during the heat of an Arizona summer day could be found guilty of negligent homicide if the baby dies. This offense is a Class Four felony punishable by a prison term from four to eight years in prison for a first-time offender.
Homicide is the most serious crime you can commit in any jurisdiction. Depending on the charge, you could spend a few years to life in prison or even face the death penalty.
If someone dies and you are blamed, you need a veteran Mesa homicide lawyer to defend you, refute what the prosecutor says, and find defenses that challenge the evidence against you. Our attorneys at the Grand Canyon Law Group are waiting for your call to schedule your initial free consultation.