Criminal Defense



Homicide is when one person kills another. There are different types of homicides in the State of Arizona. The type of homicide depends on the defendant’s mindset at the time of the offense. Each type of homicide is explained below:


Here at Alcock & Associates, our dedicated team of attorneys has successfully represented many people charged with homicide offenses. The most important concept to keep in mind when dealing with a homicide case is that homicide charges carry a various range of penalties. Prosecutors have a substantial amount of discretion to seek shorter prison sentences, life in prison or even the death penalty.

Because of the fact that these crimes are of serious nature, we ask you to contact a homicide attorney right away if you believe that you are in need of legal representation. Please keep in mind that in the United States you have the right to speak with an attorney at any time and you do not need to answer any questions that may incriminate you.

By stating and declaring that you want to speak with an attorney, the police must stop questioning you and give you a reasonable opportunity to contact a lawyer.

If you or a loved one are facing homicide charges, please contact us to set up a confidential consultation.

If you have been accused of a homicide of any kind, contact an attorney right away.


Manslaughter is recklessly causing the death of another person. Being reckless is when a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The reckless act must be a shocking deviation from what a reasonable person would do. Basically, a reckless person should have known better but did it anyway. Being voluntarily intoxicated (drunk) is not an excuse for being reckless. The classic example of manslaughter is a drunk driver who crashes and kills another driver. Another example of manslaughter is accidentally discharging a weapon and killing another person.

Arizona has a somewhat unique manslaughter law on the books. If a person knows another person wants to commit suicide, provides them with the means necessary to kill themselves, then that person can be charged with manslaughter. For example, if someone is suicidal, and a person gives them a gun to commit the suicide, that person could then be charged with manslaughter.

A person convicted of manslaughter usually faces a range of 7-21 years in prison.

Below we have provided the manslaughter statute as defined by A.R.S. § 13-1103:

  1. A person commits manslaughter by:
  2. Recklessly causing the death of another person; or
  3. Committing second degree murder as prescribed in section 13-1104, subsection A upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion resulting from adequate provocation by the victim; or
  4. Intentionally providing the physical means that another person uses to commit suicide, with the knowledge that the person intends to commit suicide; or
  5. Committing second degree murder as prescribed in section 13-1104, subsection A, paragraph 3, while being coerced to do so by the use or threatened immediate use of unlawful deadly physical force upon such person or a third person which a reasonable person in his situation would have been unable to resist; or
  6. Knowingly or recklessly causing the death of an unborn child by any physical injury to the mother.


There are four elements or factors that the State must prove in order to convict an individual of manslaughter:

1) The person accused of manslaughter did; 2) recklessly; 3) cause; 4) the death of another person.

The State or the prosecution must prove that the defendant they have accused of manslaughter is the person who is actually responsible for the death of another. That means a prosecutor will have to prove that a person was doing something likely to seriously injure or kill another, and someone actually died as a result.


Manslaughter is commonly charged when one person kills another while doing something dangerous, but that individual didn’t intend to kill the other person. Manslaughter is often charged as a result of some kind of reckless driving like excessive speed, racing, or DUI. Manslaughter may also be charged.


Manslaughter is considered a class 2 felony.

Other homicide offenses:

Negligent Homicide:

Negligent homicide is charged whenever an individual unintentionally causes the death of another through negligence. Negligent homicide is similar to manslaughter in that the individual accused of the crime didn’t intend on killing another person. What makes this crime different is that a person accused of negligent homicide isn’t accused of doing

something categorically dangerous. Instead, someone charged with this offense is being accused of not being as careful as they should be in the situation they were in. Negligent homicide might be charged if someone caused an accident while driving and talking on their phone, or if a child dies as a result of something a parent should have prevented.

Negligent Homicide is a class 4 felony.


Causing death by the use of a vehicle is usually charged when an individual causes an accident that results in the death of another person, and that person’s license had been suspended or revoked. It is very similar to negligent homicide. The difference between the two is that the prosecutor does not need to prove that the person accused of the crime was behaving negligently. Instead, the prosecutor only needs to prove that the person who caused the accident was not allowed to be driving a car at the time the accident occurred.


Murder is considered the intentional killing of another individual. It is the most serious crime a person can be accused of in the state of Arizona. If you have been accused of murder, contact an attorney immediately.

First Degree Murder

Premeditated Murder: The first type of first-degree murder is murder done with premeditation. A.R.S. 13-1105 says that a person is guilty of first-degree murder if, “intending or knowing that the person’s conduct will cause death, the person causes the death of another person, including an unborn child, with premeditation…” Under A.R.S. 13-110, premeditation “means that the defendant acts with either the intention or the knowledge that he will kill another human being, when such intention or knowledge precedes the killing by any length of time to permit reflection.” Premeditation means that a person thought and/or planned to kill the person before they killed the person. In effect, first-degree murder is committing an act with knowledge or intent that the act will kill the other person. It means the person was killed on purpose.

A person convicted of first-degree murder can be sentenced to death, natural life (no possibility of release), or life with possibility of release after 25 years. If the victim was under 15, then a person sentenced to life is not eligible for release until after 35 years.

Felony Murder: Felony murder is the second type of first-degree murder. If a person other than the defendant is killed during the commission of a felony, then the defendant can be charged with felony murder. The classic example is a bank robbery gone wrong. If a defendant goes into a bank with the intent to commit a robbery, and the security guard shoots and kills a bank teller by accident, then the bank robber can be charged with felony murder. The purpose of the felony murder rule is to deter felony offenses altogether. Keep in mind that the death must be foreseeable result of the felony. Felony murder carries the same range of penalty as premediated murder, except that a defendant cannot be sentenced to death.

Second Degree Murder

Second-degree is less serious than first-degree murder but more serious than manslaughter. It is murder committed without premeditation. A.R.S. 13-1104(A) outlines the different criteria for second-degree murder:

  1. The person intentionally causes the death of another person, including an unborn child or, as a result of intentionally causing the death of another person, causes the death of an unborn child; or
  2. Knowing that the person’s conduct will cause death or serious physical injury, the person causes the death of another person, including an unborn child or, as a result of knowingly causing the death of another person, causes the death of an unborn child; or
  3. Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, the person recklessly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes the death of another person, including an unborn child or, as a result of recklessly causing the death of another person, causes the death of an unborn child.

Second-degree murder is usually a crime of passion. The classic example is the man who comes home to find his wife cheating. In a heat of rage, the husband strangles the wife’s lover to death. Because the murder was done in the heat of the moment and was not premeditated, the suspect could be charged with second-degree murder. The difference between charging a case as first-degree or second-degree murder is usually within the prosecutor’s discretion. For example, if the same husband comes home, finds his wife cheating, walks to the safe in his basement, unlocks the safe, walks back upstairs and shoots his wife’s lover, the State might consider that premeditation. If so, the offense could then be charged as first-degree murder.

Second-degree murder has its own sentencing scheme. A person convicted of second-degree murder faces a range of 10-25 years in prison.

Negligent Homicide

Negligent homicide is uncommon in Arizona. A person is guilty of negligent homicide if they kill another person with criminal negligence. Criminal negligence occurs when a person fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. An example of negligent homicide is when a child dies after being left in a hot car. The person who left the child in the car failed to perceive circumstances which existed; namely, that the baby was left in the car. The law says that is not what a reasonable person would do. The difference between manslaughter and negligent homicide is that manslaughter requires a reckless act, whereas negligent homicide requires a reckless omission/failure.

A person convicted of negligent homicide usually faces a range of 1-3.75 years in prison.

Frequently Asked Questions about Homicides

Here are some frequently asked questions about homicides in Arizona:
  • What is murder?

    Murder is just another term for homicide. They can be used interchangeably.

  • What is the best defense for homicide?

    That depends on the case. A good defense for murder is usually “I didn’t do it.” That defense is much stronger if someone else may have committed the murder. If there is sufficient evidence to indicate someone else committed the murder, that is called a third-party alternative defense.

    Sometimes the stronger defense is self-defense. Self-defense is an affirmative defense. As such, a person acting in self-defense cannot be culpable for a homicide. If a defendant claims self-defense, then the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense at trial. That is a big burden for the State. Defense of a third person is another affirmative defense. If a defendant kills a person to save another person, that is also a strong defense.

  • What if a person is drunk?

    Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol is only a defense if consuming the drugs or alcohol was involuntary. For example, if a person is drugged and then kills someone, they would not be culpable for the death. But if a person drinks at a bar, drives under the influence, and kills a pedestrian, they would still be culpable for the death.

  • Does Arizona have the death penalty?

    Yes, and Arizona loves to put people to death. A death penalty case is called a capital case. Pima and Maricopa Counties are among the top in the United States for death penalty cases.

  • How long does a homicide case last?

    Most homicide cases last at least a year. A first-degree murder case can last 2-3 years. A second-degree murder case can last 1-2 years. A manslaughter can take 6 months to a year.

  • Does Alcock & Associates handle homicide cases?

    Yes, and we’re good at them. We represent several clients in first-degree and second-degree murder cases. We also have great success against manslaughter charges.

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Alcock & Associates P.C.
2 North Central Avenue, 26th Floor
Phoenix AZ 85004