Defending Homicide Charges in Phoenix
If you are facing a homicide charge, you are already aware that you need help. While there are a number of different crimes under the general heading of homicide, they are all serious, and can result in the most severe penalties. You need to prepare your defense, and it is essential that you retain the services of an experienced Phoenix homicide attorney as soon as possible.
What is Homicide in Arizona?
Homicide is defined in Arizona as any one of four different offenses. The elements of each of these offenses, while there is some overlap, are unique. Perhaps the major difference among them is the state of mind that must be proven in order to convict a person of one homicide charge or another :
- First degree murder. At the most extreme end of the spectrum is first degree murder. It usually requires the intentional or knowing causing of the death of another person, with premeditation. Other examples of first degree murder include causing the death of another person in connection with certain other serious crimes.
- Second degree murder. Second degree murder includes knowingly or intentionally causing the death of another person (premeditation not required), or causing death under circumstances that demonstrate an extreme indifference to life.
- Manslaughter. This offense can arise under several different circumstances, including recklessly causing another person’s death.
- Negligent homicide. This offense does not require reckless behavior, although it does require criminal negligence. That phrase is defined as the failure to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk, and a gross deviation from a reasonable standard of care.
In addition to these specific homicide offenses, there are additional related crimes such as attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, felony murder, and others.
The potential penalties vary widely from offense to offense, but in the case of homicide, all those penalties can be severe. First degree murder usually carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, and in some cases the prosecution may seek the death penalty. A second degree murder conviction generally results in a shorter, but still lengthy, prison sentence.
While manslaughter is still a class 2 felony, the penalty, if you are convicted, is generally much less severe than for murder. And negligent homicide is a class 4 felony, with, in most cases, a correspondingly lower sentence.
Phoenix Homicide Defense Attorney
David Black worked as a prosecutor before entering private practice as a criminal defense attorney. The advantage of having an experienced defense lawyer in your corner should not be underestimated. In addition to raising all applicable defenses, some cases also require skilled negotiation. The goal, as always, is to obtain a dismissal, a reduction in the charges against you, a reduction in the potential sentence you may be facing, or a not guilty verdict.
If you are facing a homicide charge, call us today at (480) 280-8028.