In Pima County, Arizona, homicide is an offense that is taken very seriously. If you are found guilty of the crime, you will face harsh punishments, which can include spending life in prison or even capital punishment. If you have been charged with this crime, you want to ensure you get the best Arizona criminal defense lawyer possible to help you build a strong case for your innocence.
Classifications for Unlawful Death in Arizona
In the state of Arizona, there are four classifications of unlawful death of another person. Homicide is not just limited to murders. For example, a Mara area abortion can be considered negligent homicide. A Oro Valley euthanasia can be charged as manslaughter. A bar fight in Pima Country could end up being a 2nd degree murder. A first-degree murder occurs if you have planned and premeditated the act.
A negligent homicide occurs when someone dies due to the negligence of another. It is a class 4 felony, and although there are many situations where this charge applies, the statute explains much in terms of an unborn child.
Any unlawful death is taken very seriously by the Arizona justice system, but manslaughter has more penalties than negligent homicide. Manslaughter can be caused by the reckless behavior of another person, irrational behavior, or even by aiding someone to commit suicide. It is considered a class 2 felony charge.
If you are charged with a homicide in Pima County, you will face time in prison if convicted. A homicide is considered murder if the death is intentional. If it was not planned, it is considered second-degree murder. If there was planning (also known as premeditation), then it is a first-degree murder case. Both first-degree and second-degree murder charges are class 1 felonies, and first-degree murder can result in the death penalty in Arizona.
If you have a prior conviction of a violent crime, the minimum prison sentence increases to 15 years and can also end up in a life sentence. If you are convicted of first-degree murder in Arizona, you will either receive a sentence of life in prison or the death penalty.
For a first conviction of second-degree murder, the minimum prison time is 10 years. However, if the victim is under 12 years old, then the minimum prison sentence raises to 13 years with the possibility of life.
The lesser of the homicide charges is negligent homicide, which is a class 4 felony. If convicted of this crime, you will not be eligible for probation and will serve 4 to 16 years in prison. The prison term varies based on the number of prior convictions. A manslaughter charge is a class 2 felony. If convicted, it can result in a prison sentence of 7 to 35 years with no chance for probation.
The prosecutor must first prove probable cause, which is done at a Grand Jury Indictment and at a preliminary hearing, in order to charge someone with homicide in the Tucson area. A jury decides in the Grand Jury Indictment, and a judge decided in the preliminary hearing. The case will only proceed if both the judge and the jury find probable cause. After probable cause has been established in both the Grand Jury Indictment and at a preliminary hearing, there will be an arraignment, pre-trail procedures, a jury trial, and then sentencing.
Remember, you are innocent until proven guilt in court. Arizona homicide cases are incredibly serious cases with long prison sentences and even the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty. That’s why it’s so important to have qualified legal representation to build a strong defense for your case. You have the right to an attorney, and you should exercise that right to protect yourself. You want to work with someone who will take the time to listen to your questions and concerns, fully investigate the possible avenues for your defense, and to help you work towards the best possible outcome.
Get Help from a Qualified Tucson Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with homicide in Tucson, Marana, Oro Valley, or elsewhere in Pima County, contact our offices today to talk to an experienced Arizona homicide attorney to start building a defense for your case.