What is the difference between murder and manslaughter in Arizona?
If you or a family member have been charged with either manslaughter or murder in Arizona, you are going to need a good criminal defense lawyer. These are some of the most serious charges that can be filed against you. Both carry long prison sentences and can ruin your life forever. It’s important to understand the difference between the two, as well as a third crime in Arizona called negligent homicide.
All three involve the killing of another human being. The difference is the intentions behind each one. They all carry different prison sentences as well. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be charged with any of these crimes. Keep in mind, your defense lawyer may also argue to have charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.
Manslaughter and Negligent Homicide
The two lower types of homicide are manslaughter and negligent homicide. Both of these crimes lack the one element that distinguishes them from murder – the premeditation factor. In Arizona, manslaughter is considered a Class 2 felony and carries a sentence of no more than 10 years.
Arizona defines manslaughter loosely and it includes many different categories of homicide. According to Arizona law, manslaughter includes:
- Intentionally assisting another in suicide – it is a crime in Arizona to help someone kill themselves. This is the case for doctors and laypeople
- Intentionally or knowingly killing a person after an adequate period of provocation – this includes heat of passion crimes and killings that follow a sudden quarrel. A typical case involves a barroom brawl or killing a spouse when you catch them in bed with a lover.
- Intentionally killing another person while being forced to do so by an immediate threat or reasonable threat of harm – there are very few cases that fall into this category.
- Recklessly causing the death of another person – this could be from firing your gun into a field and hitting a group of kids at a bonfire party.
Negligent homicide, on the other hand, is similar to manslaughter but doesn’t include the recklessness factor. With negligent homicide, a person acts negligently and causes the death of another. There are really only two situations in Arizona where they use negligent homicide:
- Vehicular homicide
- Parents of a child who is in an accident – if the court finds that the child would not have been hurt had the parents paid more attention or protected the child better.
Negligent homicide is considered a Class 4 felony and carries a prison sentence of up to 8 years.
Click here for information on manslaughter and the potential defenses in Arizona.
Murder in Arizona
Like most states, Arizona distinguishes murder from other types of homicide. Murder is the most serious offense in the criminal code. The key to proving a murder charge is proving premeditation or intent. If you are charged with murder in Arizona, your criminal defense lawyer is going to focus on arguing against premeditation.
In Arizona, there are two degrees of murder – first degree and second degree. First degree murder is taking the life of another through a premeditated and intentional act. This charge carries a sentence of life without parole or death. The other type of murder is second degree murder. Second degree murder involves the intentional killing of another person without the premeditation. Second degree murder carries with it a sentence of up to 22 years in prison.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Arizona
If you or a family member have been charged with manslaughter, you need to contact a criminal defense lawyer in Arizona immediately. These charges are not something you want to answer by yourself. The criminal justice system is complex and experienced defense lawyers know how to navigate this system.
Contact a lawyer today to schedule your initial consultation. You don’t want to wait until the last minute. Your lawyer will need all the time he can get in order to prepare your defense.