First Degree Murder

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First Degree Murder

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First-degree murder is inarguably one of the most serious offenses a person can commit. As a result, the attorney someone who is charged with this type of crime chooses will have a significant impact on the rest of their life. When a defendant is charged with murder, homicide, or other serious and violent crimes in Arizona, it is critical that they have the best legal counsel available. A skilled criminal defense lawyer will look into all of the facts of your case, gather as many expert witnesses as possible, and fight for your freedom at every turn.
Belén Olmedo Guerra has handled a slew of high-profile criminal defense cases in Arizona, and she can handle yours as well. At Belén Law Firm, we provide aggressive defense for our clients all throughout Phoenix and Arizona.

What is First Degree Murder?

According to Arizona’s Revised Statutes, first-degree murder is defined as “intending or knowing that the person’s conduct will cause death, the person causes the death of another person, including an unborn child, with premeditation or, as a result of causing the death of another person with premeditation, causes the death of an unborn child.” More simply put, it is the act that occurs when a person knowingly and intentionally kills another person with the aspect of premeditation.
If the fatality occurs during the commission of another felony, a person may also be prosecuted with first-degree murder. To impose a first-degree murder charge, the prosecutor does not need to show that the killing was intentional and premeditated, but rather that it occurred as a result of another felony offense. Below are the offenses that may lead to a first-degree murder charge if death occurred as a result:

  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery
  • Child molestation
  • Sexual assault
  • Arson
  • Fleeing from law enforcement

Also under the felony murder rule, all those who participated in the felony offense that led to an inadvertent death may receive a murder charge in the first degree. This is even if they were not directly responsible for the death but were still involved in the commission of the felony.

What is the Difference Between First Degree Murder and Second Degree Murder?

First and second-degree murder charges in Arizona are similar in nature, but have a few distinct differences. It’s crucial to understand the differences between the two, as they can significantly affect the severity of your penalty. Let’s cover the main differences between these two degrees.
As we mentioned before, first-degree murder occurs when someone intends to kill or knows that their actions will cause death. Premeditation is a necessary factor here. Second-degree murder also encompasses the intentional killing of another person, but without the factor of premeditation. Most often, this is a “heat of the moment” or “heat of passion” type of crime. Second-degree murder may also be defined as a person demonstrating conduct that shows indifference to human life or otherwise recklessly engages in activity that produces a significant risk of death and inevitably causes the death of another individual.

What are the Penalties for First Degree Murder in Arizona?

As a Class 1 felony, a first-degree murder charge carries some of the most severe penalties possible in the state of Arizona. A conviction of this kind typically results in life in prison with no possibility of release except after 25 years of “day-to-day” prison time. What “day-to-day” prison time means is that the defendant must actually serve 25 years worth of their sentence in full days with no option of early release. Other penalties include life in prison with no possibility of parole and the death penalty.
The severity of these penalties can be overwhelming, but rest assured, an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney like Belén will prioritize getting the most serious penalties off the table as soon as possible.

Learn More About Arizona’s Felony Sentencing Chart Here

Defense Strategies for a Murder Charge

At the Belén Law Firm, we pay attention to the evidence rather than the claims. With this in mind, our legal team will create a unique defense strategy for your case. We’ve included some of the defenses we’ve utilized for our past clients below.

  • The prosecution may offer weak, unreliable evidence. We’ll be able to blow their case against you wide open if this happens.
  • Dangerous circumstances might appear out of nowhere, and you may not have enough time to consider all of your alternatives. If someone tries or threatens to use deadly force against you, you may be justified in using lethal force as a form of self-defense in return.
  • Additionally, if you were defending someone else from harm, your use of lethal force may also be justifiable.
  • If you used lethal force to prevent the commission of a separate, very serious crime (such as murder or assault, among others) you have further justification.

Other defenses include being forced into committing the crime, acting in a fit of rage or a dispute, acting as a consequence of the side effects of prescription medication, or acting as a result of a mental disorder that kept you from restraining yourself.

If You Face First Degree Murder Charges, Contact The Belén Law Firm ASAP!

If you’re charged with first-degree murder in Arizona, it’s up to your lawyer to fight for your future – and potentially your life. Don’t settle for anything less than an aggressive, experienced attorney who knows how to win in court. Belén Olmedo Guerra brings a wealth of trial experience to the table and understands what it takes to put you in the best possible position for a successful conclusion. For more information, contact our skilled Phoenix murder criminal defense attorney at Belén Law Firm online or call 602-715-0908 for a free case review.

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