Negligent Homicide vs Manslaughter in Arizona
Causing someone’s death by accident or negligence is one of the worst things to happen to anyone. In many situations, things happen so fast, that you do not even have the time to understand what happened. Yet, someone is dead, and you are placed under arrest (no warrant is necessary in such a case) and presented before a judge.
Under criminal defense Arizona law, when there is no element of planning or intent to take someone’s life, you may be charged with:
Although there is little difference in essence between the two charges, they represent different types of felonies and carry different sentences. Thus, you need to hire an experienced criminal defense Arizona law attorney to represent you at all stages of the criminal case. In this article, we will explore the difference between the two charges and how to fight them.
Understanding the Charge of Negligent Homicide
Negligent homicide is the lesser of the two charges presented above. It is a class 4 felony and carries a sentence of 2.5 years in prison. According to criminal defense Arizona law attorneys, this type of charge is given in cases where death occurred as a result of criminal negligence.
Now, this concept means that the defendant did not perceive a substantial and unjustified risk for the person who lost their life. Moreover, the defendant failed to perceive that this risk is a serious deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would use.
A skilled criminal defense Arizona law attorney may argue that your failure to perceive this unjustified risk does not represent a gross deviation from the standard of care. The victim’s death was an accident, not the result of your failure to understand and avoid the risk.
Manslaughter Charges – What Do They Mean?
According to Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 13-1103, manslaughter represents:
- Recklessly causing the death of another person
- Second degree murder under the prescriptions of ARS 13-1104 (upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion)
- Intentionally providing a person with the physical means to commit suicide, knowing their intent to act in this manner
- Second degree murder committed under coercion
- Recklessly causing the death of an unborn child by means of physical injury to the pregnant woman.
This is a class 2 felony and carries a sentence of 5 years in prison – twice longer than in the case of a negligent homicide charge.
Courts have little guidance in making the difference between reckless behavior and criminal negligence. Often, it is at the judge and jury’s discretion to determine whether you acted in a reckless manner or committed a gross deviation from the standard duty of care.
An experienced criminal defense Arizona law attorney can make the difference in your favor. Just as the prosecution will use arguments to push for the more severe charge, the attorney can bring counterarguments in favor of the lesser charge.
The Slightest Detail Can Make a Big Difference
The truth may never be fully established, especially in the case of incidents which happened in a blink of an eye. However, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can find the evidence and the witnesses that support your side of the story: that the other person’s death was the result of a tragic accident.
Even if you may not be acquitted at the end of the trial, your attorney can fight the manslaughter charge and prove that you only acted with gross negligence, and not in a reckless manner.
Retain a Skilled Criminal Defense Arizona Law Attorney!
Beyond sentencing, the idea that you somehow caused another person’s death is an event that will change your outlook on life. Without an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side, you will not be able to present the best defense and get your sentence reduced. We are here to support you and make the best of a terrible situation, so call us!