Understanding the different types of homicide charges

One of the most serious and emotional criminal accusations that can happen to a person is to be charged with murder.Under Arizona law, there are four instances that determine the severity of a homicide charge.  A person can be charged as follows:

  • Negligent homicide – takes place through careless and criminal negligence such as with drunk driving resulting in a death.
  • Manslaughter – is defined as, when a person’s recklessness knowingly endangers the lives of others.
  • Second-degree murder – takes place when someone intentionally kills someone else, but the act was not done with forethought.
  • First-degree murder – happens when someone plans and carries out the premeditated death of another person.

These distinctions are important because each charge has its own level of severity and resulting penalties.  A seasoned homicide lawyer will frame defenses differently for each type of homicide charge, building a defense that gives an accused defendant the best possible chance of a reduced penalty or being found innocent.

In defending a homicide charge, an attorney may not always seek to have the charges dismissed, but rather find ways to have a homicide charge reduced to a less serious charge.  There is a big distinction between a charge of first-degree murder and manslaughter, for example.

In framing a defense, a homicide lawyer may use a couple of approaches:

  • Justifiable homicide –used by the defense to show a defendant acted honestly in the belief that the homicide was necessary for self-defense.
  • Inability to intentionally kill – also known as an insanity defense.
  • Reasonable mistake – a defense that makes the case that the defendant does not have the required mental state to understand killing is illegal

Cates & Garvey Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.