Phoenix Homicide Penalties

A homicide is any event that results in someone’s death due to another person’s actions. A murder is a homicide, but so is an unintentional death resulting from a car accident. There are multiple forms of homicide, and the type of homicide charges you face depend on the circumstances leading to the death.

Phoenix homicide penalties will depend on the specific charge and your criminal history. Seek representation from a homicide attorney at Grand Canyon law Group immediately if you are put in this position.

Criminal Sentencing Scheme for Homicide

Arizona law incorporates complicated sentencing guidelines into its penal code. Judges have some discretion in sentencing depending upon the crime. However, some crimes, including some homicide, require convicted offenders to serve a minimum time in prison.

Homicides are felonies, the most serious category of crime. The sentencing guidelines establish a minimum and maximum sentence for each class of felony and a presumptive sentence that falls close to the middle of the range for each class of crime. A judge could also consider mitigating factors that might justify a sentence less than the guideline’s minimum, or aggravating factors that could lead to a harsher than maximum sentence.

Dangerous Felonies

Arizona Revised Statute § 13-704 gives prosecutors the ability to prove a crime was dangerous and seek a harsher sentence. A crime could be labeled dangerous if it involved the display or use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, or when someone knowingly or intentionally inflicted serious injury or death. When the victim of a homicide is a child under 15, an offender faces sentencing for a dangerous crime against a child as described in A.R.S.§13-705.

When a crime is inherently dangerous, like murder, proving the elements of the crime will establish that it is a dangerous crime. However, negligent homicide might not always be a dangerous crime under the law. A Phoenix attorney from Grand Canyon Law Group could push back against categorizing a specific homicide as a “dangerous” crime, to prevent the harsher penalties. You need to call us NOW to get the help you need.

Sentences for dangerous felonies and dangerous crimes against children carry enhanced penalties. In addition, judges may not consider mitigating or aggravating factors when sentencing these crimes, and even first offenders are ineligible for probation.

Sentencing for Specific Homicide Charges

Phoenix prosecutors determine which homicide charge to bring based on the evidence they have. The more conscious a defendant’s intention to hurt someone, the more serious the charge.

When the incident involves a death in a motor vehicle accident, the charges are essentially the same—a person could be charged with negligent vehicular homicide up to first degree vehicular homicide.

A Phoenix attorney can challenge the prosecutor’s evidence establishing the defendant’s intent, and any other evidence the state uses to prove the crime. If the evidence is equivocal or flimsy, it could be possible to secure a reduced charge or defeat the prosecution at trial.

Negligent Homicide

Someone could be convicted of negligent homicide if they cause the death of another person through a criminal failure to take ordinary care. The crime is a Class 4 felony.

The presumptive sentence for a first offender is two and half years in prison with a range of one year to three years, nine months. For someone with one prior offense, the range is two years and three months, to seven years and six months. The range for an offender with multiple prior felony convictions is six years to 15 years.


Manslaughter is a Class 2 dangerous felony. The sentence for a first offender ranges from 7 years to 21 years in prison. With one prior conviction, the sentence increases to a minimum of 14 years and a maximum of 28 years in prison. Multiple prior convictions call for a sentencing range of 21 to 35 years.

Second Degree Murder

Second degree murder is an intentional homicide without premeditation. It is a Class 1 felony. The sentence for a first offender ranges from 10 to 25 years in prison and the offender must serve their complete sentence. Repeat offenders face a possible life sentence.

First Degree Murder

Conviction on a first-degree murder charge in Phoenix means a sentence of life imprisonment, natural life imprisonment, or the death penalty. Someone sentenced to life imprisonment could be eligible for parole after serving 25 years. Natural life imprisonment means the offender will never be eligible for parole and will die in prison.

Contact a Phoenix Attorney to Discuss Possible Homicide Penalties

Phoenix homicide penalties are extremely severe. When you face a homicide charge, you must do all you can in preserving your freedom – that includes calling as lawyer as soon as possible. Grand Canyon Law Group can make a huge difference for you. Call us immediately upon your arrest to begin constructing your defense.

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