FIRST AND SECOND DEGREE MURDER:
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 the 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 the possibility of release after 25 years. If the victim was under 15, the 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 a foreseeable result of the felony. Felony murder carries the same penalty range as premeditated 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:
- 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
- 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
- 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 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 to kill another person. However, while manslaughter requires a reckless act, negligent homicide requires a reckless omission/failure.
A person accused of negligent homicide isn’t accused of doing something categorically dangerous but of not being as careful as they should be in the situation they were in. In other words, they killed another person due to 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 that existed; namely, that the baby was left in the car. The law says that is not what a reasonable person would do.
Negligent Homicide is a class 4 felony.
Homicide Defense Strategies
Mounting a successful defense in a homicide case requires a deep understanding of the law, forensic evidence, witness testimonies, and more. A skilled homicide attorney will explore various defense strategies, such as self-defense, alibi, insanity, or challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution.
Why Choose Alcock & Associates as Your Phoenix Homicide Attorney?
Facing a homicide charge is an incredibly distressing experience, and you need a legal personal injury team that combines experience, dedication, and compassion to navigate these treacherous waters.
Our team of Phoenix homicide attorneys has a wealth of experience handling homicide cases of all types and complexities. We understand the nuances of the law, the court system, and the challenges associated with these cases. Our track record of success speaks for itself.
Homicide cases demand a vigorous defense, and we are not afraid to fight tirelessly on your behalf. We thoroughly investigate the facts, analyze the evidence, consult with experts when necessary, and challenge the prosecution’s case at every turn.
If you or a loved one are facing homicide charges, don’t hesitate to reach out. Your first step toward a strong defense and a brighter future starts with a conversation. Contact Alcock & Associates today, and let us stand with you in these difficult times.