A charge of murder is one of the most serious that can be brought against you. This is why finding a competent and even aggressive lawyer to build a strong defense for you is critical.
In Arizona, murder is categorized into six degrees of severity: first- and second-degree murder, automobile homicide, vehicle manslaughter, manslaughter, and negligent homicide.
Even if you didn’t intend to commit the crime, things can go wrong, or it may have been self-defense. If you killed someone in a car accident, you could be charged with murder, homicide, or manslaughter merely by being at the incorrect place at the incorrect time.
Murder, Homicide, and Manslaughter
Homicide is the killing of one person by another, whether first or second degree, culpable negligence, or unintentional death. A murder charge implies that the defendant murdered someone intentionally or premeditatedly. The term manslaughter refers to someone who kills unintentionally as well as those who do not intend to kill another individual.
If a defendant is indicted on a first-degree murder charge, the court determined that he or she committed all of the crime’s elements:
- The defendant had an intention to kill or the defendant knew or should have known that their actions would cause death to the other person;
- The defendant’s actions were premeditated;
- The defendant’s actions caused the death of another person.
The prosecutor may charge a defendant with first-degree murder if the defendant caused another person’s death while committing another crime, such as sexual conduct with a minor, sexual assault, terrorism, narcotics offenses, kidnapping, burglary, arson, escape, or child abuse. Life imprisonment or death are the penalties for this offense.
When a prosecutor charges a defendant with second-degree murder, it implies that he or she intentionally killed another person without premeditation. The following are the criteria for second-degree murder:
- The defendant intentionally caused the death;
- The defendant knew or should have known that their actions would cause serious physical injury or death;
- The defendant act recklessly
A person commits second-degree murder when he or she causes the death of another human being by intentionally causing serious bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon, poison, explosives, incendiaries, or an instrument that is likely to produce death if applied to the body. Second-degree murder is also classified as a Class 1 felony. If you’re charged with second-degree murder, you might face 10 to 25 years in prison.
The term “manslaughter” refers to the unintentional killing of another person, while “murder” refers to premeditated or intentional killings. Manslaughter, or a class 2 felony, is a lower crime than murder; for first offenders, the prison time ranges from 4 to 10 years (in most situations). If the prosecution pursues a manslaughter charge against someone, they believe that person did one of the following:
- The defendant act recklessly
- The defendant’s reckless actions caused the death of another person
When a defendant kills another person without premeditation, the prosecutor may charge them with manslaughter.
Don’t wait if you’re being charged with murder; contact a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer right now. Allow our team of attorneys to examine your situation and be by your side. Now is the time to contact us at our office.