Negligent Homicide in Arizona (A.R.S. §13-1102)
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According to laws in Arizona, per A.R.S. §13-1102 “Negligent Homicide” occurs when a person commits an act of criminal negligence which causes the death of another person.
“Criminal negligence” means the following: with respect to the result, or to a circumstance, a person fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk the result will occur, or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. Negligent Homicide does not allege that the defendant intended or wanted to kill anyone, but that the death of some person was due to the risky behavior of the defendant; behavior that a reasonable person would not have done because of the risk that someone might get hurt.
Watch this short video where David explains Negligent Homicide in Arizona:
A charge of Negligent Homicide is very similar to Manslaughter; however, Manslaughter is a “recklessness” standard which requires a gross deviation from a standard of conduct verses a “negligence” standard involving a gross deviation from a standard of care. Typically Negligent Homicide does not have as high a punishment as a Manslaughter conviction.
Possible Punishment for Negligent Homicide
If convicted of a Negligent Homicide that did not involve the use of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon, then the crime is classified as a “non-dangerous” class four (4) felony. A first offense carries a potential punishment of probation with zero (0) days in jail to one (1) year in jail -or- prison of one (1) year to three and three-quarters (3.75) years in custody. However, if this is not the defendant’s first offense and he has one (1) historical allegeable prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is two and one quarter (2.25) to seven and one half (7.5) years of incarceration. If the person has two (2) historical allegeable prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is six (6) to fifteen (15) years.
If the jury determines there was a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon used, then the crime is categorized as class four (4) “dangerous” felony. A first offense carries a minimum of four (4) years in prison, six (6) years presumptive in prison, and eight (8) years maximum in prison. If the defendant has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction, the minimum is eight (8) years, presumptive is ten (10) years, and maximum is twelve (12) years incarceration. If the defendant has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions, the minimum sentence is twelve (12) years, presumptive is fourteen (14), and maximum is sixteen (16) years incarceration.
Possible Defenses for Negligent Homicide
The prosecution must prove that the death was caused by the defendant’s “criminal negligence.” Basically, this means that the defendant failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk the death of the victim would occur, and their failure to understand that risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.
The key is demonstrating that the defendant’s failure to understand that his behavior could result in the victim’s death was not a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would have known. It will be important to show that, first and foremost, the death was an accident, and was not the defendant’s fault. The blame must be put on the victim or some other person. If it is not possible to place the blame for the circumstance that caused the death on anyone else, then the defense must present evidence that this death could have happened to anyone in the defendant’s shoes. A reasonable person would not have acted very differently than the defendant did. For example, in the case where children drown in a pool and the prosecution charges the parent’s with Negligent Homicide, part of the defense would be to put forth evidence of all the protective measures that the parents took to prevent the accident, including a pool cover and a baby gate. We would also present evidence that these are the protective measures a reasonable person would make, and it was not unreasonable for the defendant not to take further protective measures.
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 Negligent Homicide lawyer to defend you who has knowledge of all the possible defenses to assert in your case.
It is important to hire an AV® rated law firm (the highest possible rating by Martindale Hubbell®). Also David Michael Cantor is a Arizona Homicide Defense Attorney and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of it’s lawyers are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. At DM Cantor, the majority of our Attorneys are ex-Prosecutors, and all of our Arizona Homicide Defense Attorneys know the system well. For a free initial consultation, call us at 602-307-0808, or click here to contact us now.