Facing Negligent Homicide Charges In Phoenix?

Negligent Homicide Attorney In Phoenix

Negligent Homicide is a form of murder under Arizona law. Even accidents may be charged as Negligent Homicide if the prosecution believes the person who caused the accident failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk. Arizona classifies this conduct as homicide, though, it is the lowest level of homicide under the law.

Definition

ARS 13-1102 requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you or a loved one caused the death of another person with criminal negligence. The law also does not require a person to have had any intention to kill when they commit negligent homicide.

Acting with criminal negligence means that you failed to recognize a substantial and unjustifiable risk that could have or did cause the death of another person. Objectively, this means the risk is one that a reasonable person would not have taken. What raises the degree of negligence from ordinary civil liability to criminal liability is when you grossly deviate from what a reasonable person would have done in a similar situation. Arizona calls this criminal negligence, while some states call it gross negligence.

For example, you are driving at 110 mph, run a red light, and kill someone in the crosswalk and/or you are driving after drinking alcohol or smoking weed and you kill someone. In both cases, there was no intention to cause serious harm or kill, but their failure to act in a way that an ordinary person would act in that situation raises it to the level of criminal negligence. It is a fine line between what is a tragic accident or criminal liability.

Negligent Homicide v Manslaughter

Negligent homicide is similar to manslaughter under Arizona law. The difference between them is that for negligent homicide, you failed to perceive a substantial risk of harm, whereas for manslaughter, you are aware of the risk of harm and consciously disregarded it.

Sometimes, the prosecution will try to charge you with a more serious type of homicide, such as manslaughter or second-degree murder, and then make a plea offer to a conviction for negligent homicide. A jury may also decide that a person is guilty of negligent homicide rather than the more serious homicide charge alleged by the prosecutor.

Sentencing

Negligent homicide is a class 4 felony, and the potential sentence differs according to:

  1. Whether you have a criminal record
  2. Whether you used a dangerous instrument or weapon (e.g., gun, baseball bat, car)

If neither 1 or 2 apply, then the sentence would range somewhere between probation with no prison time, and 3.75 years.

If you have a criminal record, then the possible sentence increases to

  • Between 2.25 and 7.5 years if you have one prior conviction on your record
  • Between 6 and 15 years if you have two or more prior convictions on your record

If there was a dangerous weapon or instrument used, then:

  • Between 4- and 8-years imprisonment for a first offense

If you use a dangerous weapon or instrument, and have a criminal record:

  • Between 8 and 12 years if the defendant has one prior conviction
  • Between 12 and 16 years if the defendant has two or more prior convictions

Defenses To Negligent Homicide

Because Negligent Homicide does not involve any intent to kill, it is not possible to argue that you did not intend to commit the crime, or that you were acting in self-defense in any way. Instead, the main defenses to negligent homicide are:

Accident

One of the most common defenses is to argue that the death of the other person was the result of an accident, not criminal action. The prosecution would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you acted in a criminal manner. In those circumstances you may be able to argue that the death could have happened to any reasonable person under the same circumstances that you faced.

Did Not Cause the Death

Another common defense to Negligent Homicide is to argue that your actions were not the cause of death. Again, the prosecution would have to prove to the jury beyond reasonable doubt that your actions led to the person’s death. By being able to show that there was another possible and plausible reason for the death this may act to give you a defense from criminal liability.

Our skilled and experienced criminal defense legal team can help you ensure that your case is fully argued. If you or a loved one faces a charge of negligent homicide, contact an experienced homicide attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights. We offer a free, confidential consultation.

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We have experience managing violent cases that fall under the categories of murder and manslaughter. Out of respect for all Nava Law Firm clients that fall under this case type, we are not providing any information on our website. If you or a loved one have been charged with one of these serious charges, do not speak to police officers and please contact our firm immediately to get a free consultation.

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