The death of a human being is taken very seriously under the laws of Arizona and when a death allegedly occurs at the hands of another person the accused may face serious criminal charges. There are different homicide charges that may be filed in such circumstances and this post will briefly touch on some of those crimes. However, readers are cautioned that the information contained herein is not legal advice and consultation with a criminal defense attorney is recommended for those with questions about homicide defense.
The most serious form of homicide charge is first-degree murder. Under this charge, a prosecutor alleges that an accused person not only killed another person, but that they planned to commit the murder. This is called “premeditation” and when premeditation and the act of killing are present first-degree murder charges are possible.
A second-degree murder charge may apply if a prosecutor alleges that the accused intended to kill the alleged victim and carried out that intention. The intention to kill and a plan to kill are not synonymous, as a person may develop an intention to kill another person in a moment of “passion” or stress.
When the elements of a murder charge are not present, but a person dies due to the alleged conduct of another person, manslaughter charges may apply. For example, when a driver is allegedly reckless and causes a crash that kills another person, they may not have had any intention to kill someone, but their conduct allegedly led to such an outcome.
Any homicide charges can affect the future of a Mesa resident. Homicide charges should be taken seriously and, in some cases, can be met with strong defense strategies.