Arizona laws considers negligent homicide as a serious crime that can attract severe penalties. A conviction of a negligent homicide can seriously affect your rights and freedom if you end up being convicted. If you or your loved one has been convicted with such crimes, it is necessary to involve a professional criminal attorney to protect your rights. We at Phoenix Criminal Attorney are in a good position of offering the best legal services to anyone prosecuted with such crimes within Phoenix, AZ.
Definition of Negligent Homicide in Arizona
Under A.R.S. 13-1102, negligent homicide is a class four felony that involves a criminal activity that occurs when one performs a negligent action, which results in the death of the other person. The act committed by the perpetrator is considered as criminal negligence. This means that the individual failed to realize that his or her action imposed a considerable risk to the victim, resulting in grave circumstances.
The risk should be substantial enough to a degree that the person’s failure to consider it being in such a mean, significantly deviated from the standard care that one has on the other. In this case, the offender must have deviated from the standard care more than a reasonable person could have foreseen such a situation.
Please note that the term does not define that the perpetrator had the intention to kill someone, but implies that the person’s behaviors were in such a risky way to the point of killing someone. The offense also applies to an unborn child in the womb at any point in its development. However, a third party might fail to be prosecuted under this section based on the following:
- One was performing an abortion with consent from the pregnant woman, and the law has approved the action
- The perpetrator was the unborn child’s mother
For a prosecutor to successfully convict someone with negligent homicide, he or she must prove that the act was done with extreme recklessness and led to the death of the victim.
Types of Negligent Homicide
DUI stands to be the most common t type of negligent homicide in Arizona. This involves the impairment of a driver due to drugs or alcohol, leading to reckless behavior such as reckless driving, racing, and excessive speeds. Fatalities that result from such actions are not considered as criminal charges but are called wrongful death.
Other accidents that might cause one to be charged with negligent homicide include:
- Unsafe handling of a loaded gun
- Leaving a running car in your garage
- Locking a child in a hot vehicle
- Negligently causing a fire that resulted in the death of a fireman or another victim
- Unconsented or illegal abortion
Difference between Negligent Homicide and Manslaughter
Negligent homicide charges are very close to manslaughter. The difference between the two is that manslaughter results from deviation from reasonable conduct rather than a standard of care as in negligent homicide. Therefore, manslaughter attracts severe charges compared to negligent homicide.
Some of the common difference between the two charges include:
- The actions were reckless and disregarding or a known, significant risk of death, which can be considered as a gross deviation from conduct that a reasonable person would do in similar circumstances.
- Committing a second-degree murder through a reckless behavior that shows an extreme unconcern to human life, which resulted from a sudden dispute between the victim and the perpetrator
- Providing the physical means to another person to commit suicide with the knowledge that the person is going to do so
- Committing second-degree murder while under coercion through threats against you or a third person in which the compulsion was enough to resist as a reasonable person
- Caused the death of an unborn child with the knowledge that the action would injure the mother or injuring the mother recklessly
The general idea behind manslaughter is that there are one or more elements involved in such a crime. This includes knowing the victim status, sexual conduct, premeditation, among others. The difference between these two charges is made upon discretion but can be simplified to being reckless in the case of negligent homicide and gross deviation in manslaughter.
Negligent Homicide As a Civil Lawsuit
If the victim succumbed to injuries due to a negligent or reckless act of another person, close members of the victim could file wrongful death claims on the alleged person. This falls under A.R.S. 12-611, which states that wrongful death claims can be brought forward if a deceased person succumbs to the negligent conduct of another person.
Under this section, there is a limit of parties that can bring forward this kind of claim to an Arizona Civil Court. Parties that are considered worthy of the claim include:
- Surviving spouse of the deceased
- Surviving child of the deceased
- Surviving parent or guardian
- Anyone representing the deceased child, parents, guardian
- Anyone representing the deceased estate
Recoverable Damages in Arizona Wrongful Death Claim
Damages in a wrongful death are divided into two categories. The first category includes losses inflicted on the person’s estate after his or her death. Some of the damages that are recoverable under this category include:
- Funeral and burial costs
- Medical bills
- Lost wages and any other benefits that come from the deceased’s employment
- Pain and suffering that the deceased went through before his or her deat
The second category involves damages that the family to the deceased suffered due to the untimely death of the victim. Therefore, these damages are paid directly to the family members to the deceased. They include:
- Lost value of household services after the death of the victim
- Loss of companionship, care, and guidance
- Pain and suffering after the untimely death
Please note that Arizona allows a two years limit on a wrongful death claim. If the case is not filed within this period, the court will disregard it.
Penalties for Negligent Homicide in Arizona
If the alleged person is involved in a negligent homicide without the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, the offense is considered as a non-dangerous class 4 felony. A first offender attracts a potential punishment of:
- Imprisonment between zero-day to one year in jail
- one to 3.75 years in custody
For a second offender, he or she attracts a potential punishment of:
- Imprisonment between 2.25 years to 7.5 years
For a third offense, the alleged person risks the potential punishment of imprisonment between six and fifteen years.
If the jury concludes that the alleged person had a dangerous instrument, the offense is categorized as class two offense. Such an offense carries the following penalties.
- A first offender risks a minimum of 4 years to eight years in prison
- A second offender carries a minimum of 8 years to a maximum of 12 years
- A third offender risks a minimum of 12 years to a maximum of 16 years of imprisonment
Legal Defenses for Negligent Homicide in Arizona
Whenever you hire an attorney to help you with your case, he or she should come up with legal defenses that will help in winning a trial. A reasonable attorney should come up with relevant defenses that will convince the jury and the judge about your innocence. Here are a few legal defenses that you should consider.
The Defendant’s Ignorance was Not a Gross Deviation from What a Reasonable Person Would Do
The first thing to consider with this defense is showing that the victim’s death was a result of an accident. Then, the blame can be put on someone else, depending on the circumstances. It might be challenging to place blame on another person, but it can work if the situation allows. For instance, if a child dies in a pool, and the prosecutor charges the parents with negligent homicide, the attorney can put part of the defense on the pool’s management. For instance, if it did not have a baby gate or pool cover, the evidence might help to prove that the death of his or her child was beyond his or her protective measures. Therefore, the blame could be shifted to the management of the swimming pool.
Miranda Rights Violation
This is a common defense that works in different cases. The arresting officer is required to read the Miranda rights to you during the arrest. Any deviation from this requirement might be enough to build a legal defense on your case. Also, if there was some sort of coercion to force you to accept guilt, this stands to be a reasonable defense against the officer.
Denial of Counsel
Denying counsel in any charges can be a severe violation of anyone’s rights. Everyone has the right to an attorney unless otherwise stated. Therefore, if you were not given the right to an attorney as required, then you can use this as a legal defense in your case. The argument would be based on the possibility of being taken advantage of due to your legal ignorance.
Flaws in the Investigation
Based on the kind of charges imposed on you, you can expose flaws on the fingerprints analysis, D.N.A. testing, gunshot residue testing, computer analysis, Forensic financial accounting, and other activities involved in building your case. Such consideration might be tedious, but a professional attorney would not miss finding ways to disapprove the procedures.
Flaws in Police Reports
Another area that an attorney can use to expose flaws would be identifying flaws in the police reports. Some of the common things to consider include flawed photo line-ups, inaccurate reconstruction of the crime scene, false statements, and misstatements.
Self-defense is also an ideal way to prove your innocence during a negligent homicide charge. You should prove that the victim put you in a situation that you had no otherwise but to defend yourself, but resulted in death. For instance, if someone intrudes your office and you fatally stabs him with scissors as he tries to cock his gun, the defense might work since you were protecting yourself, and the circumstances are reasonable enough to prove that you were in danger.
Another reasonable legal defense would be claiming that the victim acted irresponsibly, leading to his or her death. Therefore, such accidents occurred in the absence of recklessness or negligence, resulting in the death of the victim. Therefore, you probably have nothing to do with the victim’s death unless you were responsible for something that resulted from death.
Most criminals know how to set up an alibi for their crimes and might end up putting you in suspect of a situation. In such a case, you should prove that you were not in the scene of the crime when it happened, and you do not have any association with it as well. Your attorney can use evidence such as witness statements from people that you were with during the criminal activity and video evidence of your location.
If your actions were as a result of coercion or entrapment, then you can build a legal defense around this factor. However, you must prove that the coercion was done to the point that you could not easily resist. For instance, if you are forced to do something at gunpoint, that would be enough situation to prove that you had no otherwise but to proceed with the violent action.
Mistakes of Facts
Another legal defense that might work is proving that your actions were as a result of mistaking facts. In that case, the defendant must prove that he reasonably believed that his life was at stake and led to reckless action. This is imperfect self-defense, but it can work significantly in challenging your criminal charges.
Diminished capacity is also known as a provocation and is described as temporarily insanity during the defense. For instance, if the defendant is undergoing an extremely stressful situation, the attorney can use the situation to prove that his or her action was not done in a way that a reasonable person would do. This can also work in a situation where one is provoked by a situation that would reasonably diminish one’s capacity to reason like a sober person.
Regardless of the kind of strategy that the defendant decides to use, there must be enough evidence to prove that the defense is relevant. Pieces of evidence from video footage and witness statements are very crucial in this sort of case and must be preserved at all costs.
Statute of Limitations for Negligent Homicide Crimes
A statute of limitations is the period within which a prosecutor has to file a lawsuit. Under 13-107, a prosecution of homicide is considered as part of a felony. Therefore, the statute of limitations for such crime is seven years. Several considerations follow in this section. They include:
- The prosecution should commence once there is a reasonable complaint filed against the defendant
- The duration of limitation does not run if the accused is absent from the state or has no logical assertion to be within the state
- The period does not run if the identity of the person who committed the crime is not known
- If the required timeline has expired before the prosecution has proceeded or after filing a complaint, a new trial can commence within six months after dismissal.
Therefore, any charges brought against you based on negligent homicide must adhere to these regulations or otherwise will be nullified by the court.
Related Crimes to Negligent Homicide
A related crime is an offense that is close to the crime in question and has a close implication on the defendant. In Arizona, there is a slight difference between manslaughter and negligent homicide, and there is quite a massive confusion on the two.
Manslaughter In Arizona
Under A.R.S. 13-1103, manslaughter is a criminal activity where a person recklessly takes another person’s life with a gross deviation of knowledge about the risk that the action would impose on the victim. Manslaughter is considered as a class two felony and has different penalties from negligent misconduct.
Penalties for Manslaughter in Arizona
Many factors affect manslaughter conviction in Arizona. The main factor that can affect such a conviction is prior felonies charges and sentences. Otherwise, the possible sentencing for this crime include:
- A minimum of 4 years imprisonment
- A mitigated sentence for three years
- A presumptive sentence for five years
- A maximum sentence for ten years
- An aggravated conviction for 12.5 years
If the offender has prior felonies, the action might be ruled as a dangerous offense, and the sentence might be extended beyond 12.5 years. There are also possibilities of probation, fines, and surcharges. Other consequences that might apply include restriction to pursue specific professional opportunities or government assistance, which are part of the loss of particular civil rights.
Find a Phoenix Criminal Attorney Near Me
There are a lot of complex considerations involved in a negligent homicide conviction. Therefore, one should consider hiring a professional attorney to ensure that justice is regarded throughout the trial. We at Phoenix Criminal Attorney have the resources and experience needed to provide the best legal services to anyone convicted with negligent homicide. Contact us at 602-55-8092 and get the help that you need.