Negligent Homicide Attorney in Phoenix, AZ
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Negligent Homicide Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney
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If you’ve been charged with negligent homicide, your freedom and life are on the line. At the Belen Law Firm, our experienced negligent homicide Arizona attorneys will develop a customized criminal defense plan to make certain that you have the best representation possible. To discuss your situation, please contact our office at 602-715-0908 for your free consultation.
What is Negligent Homicide?
Under Arizona law, negligent homicide, also known as criminally negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter, is a type of murder. While murder is the most serious crime a person can commit, Arizona homicide charges have a different level of seriousness. Negligent homicide is the lowest level of all murder charges, however, it is still a serious criminal offense. In reality, many negligent homicides charged in Arizona are the result of careless mistakes and the death of a person known to the accused.
Under Arizona law, negligent homicide is a type of involuntary manslaughter, which is a lesser charge than manslaughter or murder. You can be charged with negligent homicide if you accidentally caused the death of another person through criminal negligence.
Criminal negligence is defined as failing to behave with reasonable caution or to recognize clear risks associated with your activities. Negligent homicide in Arizona is defined by A.R.S. 13-1102. It states that a person commits the offense of negligent homicide if he or she causes the death of another person, including an unborn child, with criminal negligence.
To be charged with negligent homicide, the killing of another person must not have been done on purpose. It is essentially due to some kind of accident wherein one becomes criminally liable. (However, accidents that result in the death of another person are not always criminal.)
As experienced negligent homicide Arizona attorneys, we fight to protect those charged with a crime after a tragic accident.
What is Criminal Negligence in Arizona?
Criminal negligence occurs when a person fails to recognize that the act they are committing poses a significant risk of serious harm or death to another person. This means that, while the individual did not intend to cause death, a reasonable person would not take these actions because they would have been aware they posed a danger to others.
Criminal negligence is comparable to manslaughter, but manslaughter requires a greater level of mental culpability known as “recklessness.” As a result, the penalty for criminal negligence is less severe than the penalty for manslaughter.
Examples of Negligent Homicide
DUI vehicular manslaughter in Arizona is the most common type of negligent homicide. It can happen when a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol, or if a death results from a hit-and-run accident. Racing, extreme speeds, and reckless driving can also contribute to vehicular negligent homicide in AZ.
Other types of accidents that result in someone’s death can also be charged with negligent homicide. Recklessly handling a loaded gun, hunting accidents, locking a child in a hot car or leaving a car running in a garage, irresponsibly creating a fire that kills a fireman or another victim, an inattentive babysitter, or waiting too long to contact 911 are all examples.
Negligent homicide Arizona also includes accidents that result in the death of an unborn child at any stage of development, unless the person was conducting an abortion or medical treatment on the woman or unborn child. Negligence by a mother that causes the death of her unborn child is also included as negligent homicide.
Negligent Homicide vs Manslaughter
Negligent homicide is very similar to manslaughter (ARS 13-1103), under Arizona law. The difference is that for negligent homicide, you are not aware of the risk, whereas, for manslaughter, you are aware of the risk. In fact, negligent homicide in Arizona used to be called involuntary manslaughter, as it is essentially unintentional manslaughter.
The prosecution may attempt to charge you with a more serious crime, such as manslaughter or second-degree murder. Negligent homicide convictions are frequently the result of one of two factors:
- A jury decides that a person is guilty of the less serious offense of negligent homicide, rather than the more serious homicide charge presented by the prosecutor.
- Plea bargaining.
Let’s look at the example of a child left in a hot car. If the parent knew they were leaving the child in the car while going to work, they might be charged with manslaughter. However, a parent who forgot the child was still in the car did not realize they were abandoning the child and would be charged with negligent homicide as a result. Whether the parent is charged with manslaughter or negligent homicide is largely determined by the type of evidence available to establish that the parent was aware of the situation.
Is Negligent Homicide a Felony?
For a first offense, negligent homicide in Arizona is a Class 4 felony. While misdemeanor convictions can result in fines and jail time, felony convictions often result in extended stays in prison. Convictions for felonies also result in the loss of certain civil liberties, such as the right to vote and carry a firearm.
Sentence for Negligent Homicide in Arizona
If you have no prior criminal record, and you did not use a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to commit the crime, then the sentence for a Class 4 Non-Dangerous Felony for negligent homicide in Arizona may entail:
- Probation, with anywhere from 0 days in jail to 12 months in jail; or
- A minimum of 1 year in prison and up to a maximum of 3.75 years in prison.
- Aggravating circumstances, such as past criminal history or more serious types of offenses, may result in a jail sentence of up to 16 years.
*The prison terms increase if you have prior criminal convictions.
If you are charged with negligent homicide Arizona as a Class 4 Dangerous Felony, which means you used a deadly weapon (firearm, knife, etc.) or a dangerous instrument (car, baseball bat, etc.), you may face the following penalties:
A minimum of 4 years in prison and a maximum of 8 years in prison.
*If you have a past criminal record, your sentence will be longer.
You will also be labeled as a felon in public records in addition to the punishments outlined above. This can make it difficult to find or keep work once you’ve served your term and repaid your debt to society.
Statute of Limitations for Class 4 Felonies
In Arizona, most crimes have a statute of limitations, which is a period of time during which the state must file charges against the defendant or lose its right to do so. The statute of limitations for Class 4 offenses is seven years.
Note: Only when the defendant is physically present in Arizona does the statute of limitations apply. Because being out of state “stops the clock,” the time spent away from Arizona does not count against the 7-year statute of limitations.