Criminal negligence: You hear the term frequently in regard to criminal charges. There is negligent use of a weapon or negligent use of a motor vehicle and negligent homicide.

Criminal negligence is when a person fails to understand the risk involved to another person when causing an offense. His or her conduct is a serious departure from how a reasonable person would act. There are four classes of homicide:

  1. Negligent homicide
  2. Manslaughter
  3. Second degree murder
  4. First degree murder

Arizona Criminal Code 13-1102 states a person commits negligent homicide if there is a death that includes criminal negligence.

Defense

The prosecution must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the person committed the offense. The person charged with negligent homicide has the right to establish a defense. Some defenses against negligent homicide are:

  • Self-defense: The person believes there is a threat of death or serious harm.
  • Insanity: The person is not responsible for his or her actions because of diminished mental capacity.
  • There is no negligence involved.

Sentence

The sentencing for a first offense nondangerous class 4 felony includes a prison term from between one year and three years and nine months.

Prison time for repeat offenders depends on prior felony convictions. A category two repeat offender is a person who stands convicted of a felony and has one prior felony conviction. A sentence for a category two repeat offender is prison between two years and three months, and seven years and six months.

Felony convictions can cost thousands of dollars in fines and restitution. It will also affect your right to vote and make the search for a job difficult.

If arrested for negligent homicide, you have the right not to talk to the authorities until you have contacted an attorney. The law presumes you are innocent until proven guilty.