Negligent Homicide Charges in Arizona

negligent homicide charges in arizonaKilling another person will usually lead to criminal charges but when we get to legal specifics, things can become a bit more complicated. There’s a difference between manslaughter and negligent homicide, for example. The second crime is defined in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1102 and it occurs whenever the negligent actions of one person contribute to the death of another.

The Legal Definition of Negligent Homicide

The act that is negligent in nature and that contributes to the death of a person is legally known as criminal negligence. Criminal negligence can occur whenever a person underestimates the risky nature of their actions. The risk has to be both substantial and unjustifiable for a crime to occur.

There is a difference between negligent homicide and manslaughter. For manslaughter to occur, there will have to be recklessness that deviates from normal conduct. Negligence, on the other hand, is produced by a failure to adhere to standard procedures and care precautions.

A case from 2011 demonstrates the difference. Spiritual guru James Ray was found guilty of negligent homicide after three of his followers died in a crowded sauna during a ceremony. He was found not guilty on three counts of manslaughter but was found guilty of the lesser charge.

In 2009, Ray had 60 of his followers in a heated sauna hut for a spiritual rebirthing ceremony. Many of the participants got sick because of overheating and dehydration. According to participants in the experience, Ray’s seminars and overall practice negligently ignored the possible dangers stemming from long-term sauna sessions. In addition, he adopted a paternal role that contributed to all followers listening and obeying without questioning the practices.

In some situations, the difference between the two could be minuscule. On occasions, making the distinction could even seem subjective. The classification of the crime, however, will have a profound impact on the defendant. In Arizona, manslaughter is a Class 2 felony (depending on the circumstances). Negligent homicide is a Class 4 felony and it carries less severe sanctions.

Sanctions for Negligent Homicide

As a Class 4 felony, negligent homicide carries a minimum prison sentence of one year. If there are aggravating circumstances, the sentence could be increased to eight years in prison. Fines, restitution and the suspension of a driving license could also feature among the sanctions.

In addition to the criminal case, a person who has committed negligent homicide may also have to deal with a civil lawsuit. In the case of a civil lawsuit, the relatives of an individual who died because of somebody’s negligence will demand financial compensation. Such compensation could be sought for medical charges, burial expenses, loss of income and partnership, pain and suffering.  Call the AZ Criminal Defense Group for more information on violent crimes.

Defense Scenarios

A criminal defense attorney will try to prove that an accident or an occurrence that contributed to death was not the result of the defendant’s actions or the lack of such. If there isn’t another party involved, a criminal defense attorney will attempt showing that the deadly occurrence was inevitable and independent of human action.

Miranda Rights violations and questionable evidence collection practices can also be challenged by an attorney. Depending on the effectiveness of the defense strategy, it’s even possible to suppress some of the evidence that the prosecution would have used to establish guilt.

While negligent homicide doesn’t come with as serious consequences as manslaughter, being found guilty of such a crime will have life-altering consequences. Do not leave the process to chance. Get in touch with an Arizona criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The lawyer will acquaint themselves with the specifics of the case and pinpoint the defense strategy bound to give you the best possible outcome.