Manslaughter Defense

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Phoenix Manslaughter Attorney

Experienced Manslaughter Lawyer in Maricopa County, AZ

At the Belén Law Firm in Phoenix, AZ, our Phoenix criminal defense attorneys are prepared to handle cases of any nature, including challenging ones such as those involving manslaughter and homicide. We know that there is often a lot at stake when facing such charges, which is why our experienced legal team is dedicated to protecting your rights and ensuring that you receive the highest level of representation to achieve the best possible outcome. 

To speak with a knowledgeable Phoenix manslaughter attorney regarding your case, call our law office at (602) 715-0908 or reach out online to set up your free initial consultation today.

Phoenix Manslaughter Attorney

What is Manslaughter?

Manslaughter is a legal term that refers to the unlawful killing of another person, often without premeditation or intent to kill. Though it still results in the death of an individual, the offense differs from typical murder and homicide charges, which often involve intent or premeditation.

Murder vs. Manslaughter

While both murder and manslaughter charges are grave offenses involving the unlawful taking of human life, the key differences lie in the intent, circumstances, and severity of the actions leading to the death, which directly influence the potential legal consequences one might receive if convicted.

The offense of manslaughter can be voluntary, where a person kills in the heat of passion or due to sudden provocation, or involuntary, where the death results from reckless or negligent actions without any intent to kill. Due to the lack of intent behind the actions, the penalties for manslaughter are generally less severe than those for murder.

In Arizona, a person can be charged with either first-degree murder or second-degree murder. A first-degree murder case typically involves premeditated killing or death caused during the commission of certain other felonies, such as kidnapping or robbery (called the “felony murder rule”). Those convicted of first-degree murder in Arizona can face life imprisonment or even the death penalty.

Second-degree murder, on the other hand, involves intentional killing without premeditation, or deaths caused by reckless disregard for human life. While still a serious criminal offense, second-degree murder in Arizona does not involve the same level of planning or intent as first-degree murder. Though convictions for these homicide crimes do not carry the death penalty, they can still result in substantial prison sentences and require the help of an experienced Phoenix murder defense attorney.

Negligent Homicide vs. Manslaughter

A person commits negligent homicide by causing the death of another person through criminal negligence. This means the individual failed to be aware of what any reasonable person would consider a substantial and unjustifiable risk that their actions could result in serious injury or death.

Examples of scenarios that may lead to a negligent homicide charge include texting while driving in a neighborhood, which can lead to a tragic accident; firing a deadly weapon in the air at an event, endangering lives with reckless disregard; and leaving a child in a car in hot weather, an act that can have devastating and fatal consequences.

Meanwhile, manslaughter charges recognize a higher degree of culpability and reckless behavior compared to Arizona negligent homicide charges, often resulting in more substantial legal consequences, including longer prison sentences.

Phoenix Manslaughter Defense Lawyer

ARS 13-1103

Under Arizona’s criminal law (ARS §13-1103), there are a few different ways someone might be charged with manslaughter. This includes:

  1. Recklessly causing the death of another person;
  2. Committing second-degree murder during a sudden argument or heat of passion resulting from provocation by the victim;
  3. Committing second-degree murder under the threat or use of unlawful deadly physical force;
  4. Intentionally providing the means for another person to commit suicide with knowledge of their intent;
  5. Advising or encouraging a minor to commit suicide with knowledge of their intent;
  6. Causing the death of an unborn child by injuring the mother (applies to an unborn child at any developmental stage, with exceptions for performing legal abortions, medical treatments, or if the person is the child’s mother).

According to this statute, manslaughter is considered a Class 2 felony in Arizona.

Types of Manslaughter Charges

Manslaughter charges in Arizona can include a range of serious offenses, including voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, and assisting in suicide, to name a few. Below, we’ll go into more detail regarding each of these specific types of charges.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter involves the unlawful killing of another person under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed. For example, when the offense occurs during a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion, where the individual acts impulsively rather than with premeditation or malice aforethought. 

A critical factor in voluntary manslaughter is that the person’s conduct, though intentional, was a result of circumstances that clouded the offender’s judgment, such as if the victim provoked them. 

Involuntary Manslaughter

Involuntary manslaughter charges apply when a death is committed unintentionally due to reckless or criminally negligent behavior. This criminal charge recognizes that while there was no intent to kill, the individual’s actions were so careless or reckless that they resulted in the death of another person. 

Involuntary manslaughter can occur in situations such as accidents caused by gross negligence or unlawful acts that are not felonies. Although considered less severe than voluntary manslaughter, this is still a very serious offense and can carry penalties including substantial fines, imprisonment, and a permanent criminal record.

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Vehicular Manslaughter

Certain vehicular crimes, such as driving in a negligent or reckless manner or while impaired, can also lead to a manslaughter charge in Arizona. If the driver’s reckless actions resulted in the death of another person but they were seemingly not aware of the danger they posed, they may be charged with vehicular homicide. However, if the driver acts (or fails to act) in such a way that causes death to another and any reasonable person in the same situation would have known their conduct could lead to injury or death, they may be charged with vehicular manslaughter. 

The “knowing” element of these cases means vehicular manslaughter is typically met with more severe penalties than a vehicular homicide charge in Arizona

Assisting in Suicide

A person can also be charged with manslaughter in Arizona for helping or encouraging someone else to commit suicide. When an individual knowingly assists or persuades another person to end their own life, their actions can be seen as directly contributing to that person’s death. This includes providing the means for committing suicide or actively participating in the planning and facilitation of the act. 

Although the individual may not have directly caused the death, their involvement in the process is considered criminally negligent or reckless, potentially resulting in a manslaughter charge.

What are the Penalties for Manslaughter in Arizona?

Although manslaughter charges are not considered as serious crimes as first and second-degree murder, they still carry heavy penalties for those convicted. Considered a Class 2 felony, Arizona’s felony sentencing guidelines provide the following punishment for a first-offense manslaughter conviction in Arizona: 

  • Minimum Sentence: 7 years in prison
  • Presumptive Sentence: 10.5 years in prison
  • Maximum Sentence: 21 years in prison

It’s important to keep in mind that these sentences are for first-time offenders only, as any prior felony convictions can significantly increase the penalties one may face if convicted. To learn more about the potential penalties you may be up against based on your unique case and situation, call an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney at Belén Law Firm today.

Additional Consequences of a Phoenix Manslaughter Conviction

Aside from a lengthy prison sentence, a conviction for manslaughter in Arizona carries far-reaching consequences that can impact virtually every aspect of a person’s life. For instance, being convicted of this dangerous offense can result in significant fines, often amounting to thousands of dollars. 

Individuals convicted of manslaughter may also face long-term repercussions such as the loss of certain civil rights, including the right to possess firearms, and a permanent criminal record, which can hinder future employment/educational opportunities and affect personal relationships. 

Phoenix Manslaughter Lawyer

Why You Need a Skilled Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney for Manslaughter Charges

When facing criminal offenses as serious as manslaughter in Arizona, it can be absolutely crucial to your case (and your future) to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer by your side. An attorney with experience handling dangerous offenses and serious crimes like manslaughter can provide invaluable guidance and representation throughout the entire legal process. This includes meticulously examining the details of your case, challenging the prosecution’s evidence, and crafting a strategic defense strategy aimed at securing the best possible outcome. 

Whether negotiating for reduced charges, seeking alternatives to imprisonment, or working towards having your charges dismissed or acquitted, a competent criminal defense lawyer understands the many complexities of Arizona law and the criminal justice system as a whole and can ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.

Potential Manslaughter Defenses

Your Phoenix manslaughter defense attorney may utilize various defenses depending on the circumstances of your case. Here are some of the more common defenses employed for such a crime:

  • Self-Defense: The defendant may argue that they acted in self-defense, using deadly force only to protect themselves or others from imminent danger.
  • Accidental Death: If the death was truly accidental and not caused by reckless or negligent behavior, the defense may argue that there was no criminal intent or gross negligence involved.
  • Lack of Causation: The defense might challenge whether the defendant’s actions directly caused the death, arguing that there were intervening factors or circumstances beyond their control.
  • Mistaken Identity: In cases where identification is an issue, the defense may argue that the defendant was not the person responsible for the death.
  • Insufficient Evidence: If the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence to prove the elements of manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt, the defense may seek to have the criminal charges dismissed or acquitted.
  • Diminished Capacity: If applicable, the defense may argue that the defendant’s mental state at the time of the incident was impaired, affecting their ability to understand the consequences of their actions.

Call a Phoenix Manslaughter Defense Lawyer at Belén Law Firm for a Free Consultation 

For anyone facing the criminal charge of manslaughter in Arizona, securing experienced legal representation ASAP is crucial. At Belén Law Firm, we have years of experience defending individuals accused of serious crimes – including manslaughter, homicide, and murder charges – and we have what it takes to help you, too. 

Our attorneys offer skilled legal guidance and dedicated advocacy, ensuring your rights are protected from the initial consultation to the conclusion of your case. Contact an experienced Phoenix manslaughter/homicide defense attorney on our team today for a free consultation to discuss your case in further detail. You can reach us by phone at (602) 715-0908 or by completing our online intake form today.

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