Arizona Murder Charges: The 4 Degrees You Need to Know

In Arizona, homicide or murder is when you take another person's life. It is a serious offense that comes with stiff and mandatory sentencing by state law. If you have been arrested for murder in Phoenix, you probably have a lot of questions about your rights and what happens next. Each Arizona homicide case is unique, and you need to contact a Phoenix homicide defense lawyer for specific answers to your questions. We can, however, offer you some general information about homicide charges in Arizona.

Four Degrees of Severity
Arizona murder laws allow for varying degrees of severity, and those designations can strongly impact your case and the punishment you receive for murder in Arizona. There are four levels of severity:
  • Negligent homicide: This applies when you cause the death of another person, including an unborn child, through negligence. It is considered a Class 4 felony.
  • Manslaughter: This is a Class 2 felony that applies when you recklessly kill another person, intentionally help someone commit suicide, are coerced by a person threatening you with physical force, cause the death of an unborn child by physically injuring the mother, or commit second degree murder when provoked by another, after an argument, or in the "heat of passion."
  • Second degree murder: This applies when there is no premeditation, and you intentionally kill another person, know that the person's behavior will result in death or serious injury, or kill a person by engaging in conduct that you know could kill someone. It is a Class 1 felony.
  • First degree murder: This applies when there is premeditation (i.e., you plan intentionally) to kill a person or know your conduct will be deadly, kill a person in the course of committing certain other crimes, or kill a police officer in the line of duty. It is a Class 1 felony and could be punished with death or life imprisonment.

A murder conviction can change your life forever and have a huge impact on your opportunities. For more information, talk to a qualified and experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer today by calling 1-888-929-5292. We will answer your questions clearly and honestly and ensure the protection of your rights. For more details about us and what we do, take a moment to read through our FREE book, Arizona Criminal Law - What You Must Know.