In Arizona, manslaughter has a broad interpretation and can include many possible scenarios. There is no classification on voluntary or involuntary manslaughter. A person may only be charged with manslaughter or negligent homicide.
One of the keys to proving manslaughter is proving that a defendant’s actions were “reckless.” In legal circles, “reckless” has a very specific definition. To be qualified as “reckless” a defendant must have undertaken actions with an awareness that there is a substantial and unjustifiable risk of a negative result, and the risk was disregarded anyway. Basically, a defendant can meet the reckless standard by ignoring risk and acting in a way that completely deviates from what a normal person would do in similar circumstances.
The “reckless” standard is most commonly applied in cases where a driver kills another driver (i.e. drunk driving), or when children die in an accident and the prosecutor believes the parents were negligent in their attempts to prevent the accident.
Manslaughter charges may also be brought if someone helps a person intentionally commit suicide, intentionally kills another person during a sudden quarrel, or a person causes the death of an unborn child by injuring the mother.
Although manslaughter is a serious charge, many times a seasoned manslaughter defense attorney will seek a plea agreement down to a manslaughter charge if a defendant has been charged with murder. If an attorney can establish that the death was possibly justified or it was an accident, a defendant can face a shorter prison sentence instead of a conviction that carries a life sentence with no possibility of parole.
Manslaughter is considered a Class 2 felony in Arizona and as such, carries with it a prison sentence of between 7 and 21 years for a first offense. For a person with previous felony charges, the sentence can rise dramatically, up to 35 years in some cases.
Dwane Cates Law Group proudly serves the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Tempe, Mesa and surrounding Arizona communities.