Murder is the taking of another person’s life. But when it comes to punishing those convicted of murder/homicide, there are careful distinctions made to differentiate the severity and nature of the crime. In Phoenix, murder/homicide is divided into four classifications: negligent homicide, manslaughter, second degree murder and first degree murder (the most serious of the four classifications). Each of these crimes are serious offenses that carry strict mandatory sentencing.
Negligent homicide occurs when someone kills another person through criminal negligence. Criminal negligence refers to a person’s inability to see the potential danger their action will bring to other people. This includes things like vehicular homicide and other alcohol or drug impaired accidents. Negligent homicide is a class 4 felony.
Manslaughter occurs when someone’s reckless behavior kills another person. Recklessness is defined as knowingly endangering the lives of other people through irresponsible behavior. Manslaughter crimes often are crimes of passion that occur in the heat of the moment and are punishable as class 2 felony.
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Second degree murder occurs when someone intentionally kills another person through an act that was not premeditated. This includes vehicular homicide and other acts where an individual intentionally kills another human being. Second degree murder is a class 1 felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison with no parole.
First degree murder occurs when someone takes the life of another human being through a premeditated and intentional act. This is the most serious degree of murder and is punishable as a class 1 felony. The consequences for a first degree murder conviction are steep, including life in prison or death.