Most people know that homicide is a criminal offense. In Maricopa County, this offense is taken very seriously and those found guilty of it will face stiff penalties. Whether you will spend the rest of your life in prison or face capital punishment, a homicide is a charge no one wants to be unjustly accused of.
In Arizona, the definition of a homicide is not limited to murders. There are actually four different classifications of the unlawful death of another person. A Tempe area abortion could be considered negligent homicide. A Chandler area euthanasia could be charged as manslaughter. A bar fight in Gilbert could result in a 2nd degree murder. Then, there is always the classic planned out 1st degree murder.
Negligent homicide is defined as the death of a person caused by the negligence of another person. Although there are many cases where this can apply, Arizona statute explain much of this in the terms of an unborn child. Negligent homicide is considered a class 4 felony.
Even though any death is serious, manslaughter carries more penalties than negligent homicide. There are many different definitions of manslaughter. It can be caused by reckless behavior that leads to another person’s death, murder that occurs out of irrational behavior, or even helping someone commit suicide. Manslaughter is considered a class 2 felony.
Homicide becomes murder when the death is clearly intentional. Second degree murder is murder that was not planned whereas first degree murder involves planning on the part of the murderer. The legal term for this type of planning is called premeditation. Both charges are class 1 felonies. First degree murder can also result in a death penalty.
A Maricopa county homicide charge can mean lots of different things, but it will result in prison time. The lesser of all homicides, negligent homicide, is a dangerous class 4 felony. These types of felonies are not eligible for probation and serve 4 to 16 years in prison. The amount of years vary based on whether or not there are any priors. Manslaughter is a class 2 felony which means someone convicted of it will serve anywhere from 7 to 35 years without the chance for probation.
Murder charges are a class 1 felonies that can result in life in prison. For a second degree murder charge first convictions can serve as little as 10 years in prison. If the victim is under the age of 12 years old, the minimum prison time increases to 13 years and the possibility of life in prison. Prior violent convictions raises the minimum to 15 years and also can result in life in prison. First degree murder convictions will always result with life in prison, and can possibly result in the death penalty.
In order to be charged with a homicide in Maricopa county, the prosecutor must first prove there is probable cause for the charge. This is done at a Grand Jury Indictment and at a preliminary hearing. The Grand Jury Indictment is decided by a jury, and the preliminary hearing is decided by a judge. A homicide charge will proceed only if both judge and jury agree that there is probable cause.
Homicide cases are held at superior courts located in Maricopa county cities such as Phoenix, Surprise and Mesa. Following the establishment of probable cause, homicide trials include arraignment, pre-trial procedures, jury trial, and sentencing.
If you have been charged with a homicide in Maricopa county Arizona, it is very important that you get representation to help you with your case. You are innocent until proven guilty, and there are many opportunities in the judicial process to prove your innocence. A homicide conviction in Arizona is a serious charge that could even mean death. Contact our office and let us help you prove your innocence.