According to Arizona laws, per A.R.S §13-1103 a person can be charged with “Manslaughter” by:
- “Recklessly” causing the death of another;
- “Intentionally” or “knowingly” killing a person in the heat of passion or upon a sudden quarrel resulting from adequate provocation from the victim;
- “Intentionally” aiding another to commit suicide; or
- “Intentionally” or “knowingly” killing a person while being coerced to do so by the use or threatened immediate use of unlawful deadly physical force upon such person or a third person ,which a reasonable person in his situation would have been unable to resist.
Watch this short video where David explains Manslaughter in Arizona:
To “recklessly” cause the death of another, means that the person was unaware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result would occur, or that the circumstances existed. The risks must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of such risks constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. People are sometimes charged if they are recklessly handling a firearm which accidentally discharges and kills someone, or if they have left a newborn baby unattended in a bathtub. The key elements are “substantial and unjustifiable risk” and “gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.” Manslaughter can also be charges in the vehicular setting, usually when a person is Driving Under the Influence, and hits and kills someone.
Manslaughter is a very useful tool in criminal defense because we use it during plea agreements and at trial in order to obtain for our clients who have a very difficult case and are charged with more serious murder charges, a better chance of getting out of prison sooner and having an actual life after incarceration. Manslaughter can often times best be understood as a killing which was an accident, or a justification. The defendant did not intend to do the killing, and as such should not be punished as severely for his actions.
Possible Punishment for Manslaughter
Manslaughter is a class two (2) felony. Typically Manslaughter is always a “dangerous” felony. Punishments range based on current and previous convictions, if they apply, are as follows:
- A first offense punishment is a minimum is 7 years in prison, the presumptive is 10.5 years, and the maximum is 21 years in prison.
- If a person has one (1) allegeable historical prior dangerous felony conviction, then the range of “prison only” range is 14 years minimum, 15.75 years presumptive, and 28 years maximum of incarceration.
- If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior dangerous felony convictions, then the “prison only” mandatory minimum punishment is 21 years, the presumptive is 28 years, and the maximum is 35 years of incarceration.
Possible Defenses for Manslaughter
The most often seen defense to Manslaughter is a “Supervening Cause.” The “Supervening Cause” defense argues that it was not the defendant’s actions which killed the deceased, that something else actually caused the death. An example of a supervening cause would include a medical error by emergency treating personnel or other medical hospital personnel caused the person’s death, not the bullet from the defendant’s gun. These cases are so complex that they require a litany of defense experts including private investigators, gunshot residue experts, DNA experts, accident reconstruction experts, and human factors experts. David Michael Cantor is “Death Penalty Qualified”. This means he has “first-chaired” and has been substantially involved in Capital Murder Trials in the past.
Additionally, if the defendant is charged with Manslaughter by “recklessly causing the death of another,” it will be important to show that, first and foremost, the death was the victim’s fault. Additionally, the defense must show that the defendant was not “reckless”. The standard of “recklessness” in Arizona is that the defendant was aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result would occur or that a dangerous circumstance existed. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. The key is demonstrating that the defendant did not ignore a “substantial and unjustifiable risk” that his actions would result in the death of another and that his conduct was not a gross deviation from what a reasonable person in his shoes would do.
Additionally, because our law firm fights conviction from all angles, we would assert a wide range of defenses and challenges to constitutional violations that apply in all criminal cases. The possibilities are numerous and diverse. One of those we frequently assert is a “Miranda rights violation.” In Arizona, the standard of whether any incriminating statement (i.e., a statement which tends to admit guilt) is admissible into evidence is based upon a “voluntariness” standard. If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read you your Miranda Rights, then we can suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements. In addition, the “denial of right to Counsel” is another common defense which is often raised. This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but is denied and questioning continues. Other defenses may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case.
Depending on what else you have been charged with, this could include exposing flawed procedures regarding blood, breath, and urine testing; fingerprints analysis; DNA testing; ballistics; gunshot residue testing; computer analysis/cloning hard drive procedures; forensic financial accounting reviews; etc.. Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, false statements, flawed photo line-ups and other identification procedures, and inaccurate crime scene reconstruction. It is important to hire a skilled Manslaughter lawyer to defend you who has knowledge of all the possible defenses to assert in your case. Be sure to review our Manslaughter case victories and compare them with other lawyers in Phoenix.