phoenix homicide attorney

Phoenix Murder and Homicide Attorney

Homicides are serious offenses with severe consequences. If you have been charged with a homicide offense in Phoenix, whether it is vehicular homicide or another type of murder case, you should contact an experienced Phoenix homicide attorney as soon as possible. Contact Ybarra Maldonado Law Group today. After being charged with a violent crime, we have the expertise, abilities, and experience to successfully pursue the best possible outcome for you. Call our Phoenix criminal defense office today at 602-910-4040 or fill out our online intake form.

What Are the Different Types of Homicide?

Regardless of the outcome of the charges, homicide involves the taking of a human life. Each state in the U.S. has different types of classifications, but many share similarities. The four most common categories are as follows.

  • Negligent homicide: Negligent homicide is a kind of involuntary manslaughter under Arizona law, which is a lower offense than manslaughter or murder. If you inadvertently cause the death of another person due to criminal carelessness, you may be prosecuted with negligent homicide.
  • Manslaughter: According to Arizona law, manslaughter involves one of the following: recklessly causing the death of another person, intentionally killing someone in the heat of the moment or during a quarrel, or aiding another in committing suicide.
  • Second degree murder: Someone causes the death of another person with the intention of doing so, but without premeditation. A person acts in a way that exhibits a complete disregard for human life, or recklessly participates in behaviors that pose a considerable danger of death, resulting in the death of another person.
  • First degree murder: Someone has the intent to kill or is aware that their actions will result in death. They cause the death of another person or persons as a result of their activities. They planned the killing ahead of time.

What Are the Penalties for Homicide in Arizona?

First- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide are all classified as homicide. A murder accusation indicates that the defendant murdered someone with the purpose or premeditation to do so, whereas manslaughter indicates that the defendant did not have such intent. Premeditation includes not only the desire to murder another person, but also the knowledge that the defendant will do so. Depending on which charge you face, the potential penalties vary greatly.

Negligent Homicide

Criminal negligence is defined as failing to behave with reasonable caution or to recognize evident hazards associated with your conduct. Negligent homicide is a Class 4 felony that carries a minimum of one year in prison and a maximum of 3.75 years in jail for a first conviction. Second crimes can result in a jail sentence of up to 7.5 years. You will lose your weapon license and have a criminal record in any case.


This crime is a class 2 felony. It is always considered a dangerous felony. The following are the ranges of punishments depending on current and past convictions, if applicable.

  • A first crime has a minimum sentence of 7 years in prison, a presumptive sentence of 10.5 years, and a maximum sentence of 21 years in jail.
  • If a person has one allegeable prior serious felony conviction, the maximum sentence is 14 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of 14 years, a presumption sentence of 15.75 years, and a maximum sentence of 28 years in prison.
  • If the individual has two allegeable prior serious felony offenses, the obligatory minimum sentence is 21 years in prison, the presumptive sentence is 28 years, and the maximum sentence is 35 years in prison.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder is less severe than first-degree murder, but it still carries substantial criminal consequences. If you are found guilty of second-degree murder, you will face the following consequences.

  • Minimum 10 years in prison
  • Presumptive prison sentence of 16 years
  • Maximum of 22 years in prison

There will be no early release or time off for good behavior, thus these figures are for day-to-day prison terms.

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the most serious type of murder in the state, and it is a crime classified as a Class 1 felony. The felony murder rule is another manner in which a person might be prosecuted with first-degree murder. A person can be charged with first-degree murder if he or she kills another person as a result of committing a specific felony stated in the legislation. The following are examples of these offenses.

  • Robbery 
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Child molestation
  • Sexual assault
  • Fleeing from law enforcement

Only three penalties exist, listed below in order of severity.

  • Life in prison with no possibility for release. This is until the defendant serves 25 years of day-for-day prison time.
  • Life in prison without the possibility of parole.
  • The death penalty

Defenses to Homicide Charges

Homicide is defined as the killing of another person under Arizona law. It’s one of the most serious criminal accusations you or a loved one may face for obvious reasons. A homicide conviction in Arizona has severe consequences, and the state frequently seeks the death sentence for many first-degree murder cases. Educating oneself about Arizona homicide laws and enlisting the help of an experienced homicide attorney will increase your chances of a favorable outcome. Below, we include some common defenses for the charges listed above.

Insufficient Evidence

This is a broad defense in which you question the quality and veracity of the evidence presented against you. You claim that the prosecution has failed to fulfill its burden of showing that you committed the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

For example, if the police investigation was bad, you should criticize the evidence as a sloppy police investigation’s dubious consequence. Furthermore, the research might have been incomplete. It’s possible that the cops overlooked additional evidence or suspicions. Perhaps the cops neglected to get some crucial pieces of evidence examined.

You may also wish to engage an independent expert where there is scientific forensic evidence, such as DNA, guns, fingerprints, or crime scene reconstruction. This neutral expert can examine the evidence and offer their own opinions in opposition to the prosecution’s expert judgments.

Lost or Destroyed Evidence

A defendant might petition the court to offer a jury instruction to aid the defense if the police or prosecution lost, destroyed, or neglected to preserve evidence that is crucial to the issues in the case. The jury can consider the fact that crucial evidence was lost, destroyed, or not maintained as a possible reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt under this instruction.

Lack of Motive

Murder is a crime in which motive is not a factor. However, if a person is charged with murder and does not have a motivation to kill, the jury may consider this while deciding whether or not to convict you.

If an eyewitness misidentified you, you will wish to challenge the prosecution’s identification evidence. According to studies, eyewitness testimony is one of the least trustworthy types of evidence.

Mere Presence

When the prosecutor tries to prove that you are guilty of a crime because you were an accessory to another person who did the crime, you can utilize this defense. However, simply being present at a crime scene or knowing that a crime was being committed does not automatically make you guilty of the accusation, nor does it make you an accessory to a crime. A passive observer is someone who is simply present. This indicates that the individual had no criminal intent and did not take part in the crime.

You should raise an alibi defense if you have proof or a witness who can attest that you were someplace else at the time the crime was committed. An alibi defense establishes that you were not there at the time and location of the offense. As a result, you could not have been the perpetrator of the crime.

Third Party Culpability

A third-party responsibility argument is similar to an alibi defense in that both argue that the defendant did not conduct the crime. A third-party responsibility defense, on the other hand, asserts that there is evidence linking someone else (a third party) to the crime.

If there is a reasonable doubt that you were there at the time and place the crime was committed, a jury must find you not guilty. A jury must find you not guilty under a third-party responsibility defense if there is a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense because it might have been done by a third party.


When you employ a causality defense, you are claiming that your acts were not the cause of the other person’s death. A brawl breaks out at a party, for example, and two individuals discharge their firearms. Each individual’s gun fires a bullet that injures the person in front of them. However, one bullet struck the individual in a non-fatal place, while the other struck the person in a deadly location. Only the individual who fired the gunshot that killed the victim should face charges of murder.

Self-Defense, Defense of Another Person, or Crime Prevention

Justification defenses are the name for several sorts of defenses. When you did cause the death of another person but were justified in doing so, you should employ the justification defense. Self-defense, defense of a third person, and crime prevention (for only particular crimes mentioned in A.R.S. 13-411) are the most prevalent rationale defenses. If you claim that your actions were justifiable, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you were not.


A person is guilty by reason of insanity if, at the scene of the offence, he or she was suffering from a mental illness that led them to be unaware that what they were doing was wrong. It excludes illnesses such as character flaws, psychosexual disorders, and impulse control disorders, which are caused by intentional intoxication or withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. Because many people suffer from a mental health illness or a drug addiction problem, but they still distinguish right from wrong, this sort of defense is more difficult to show.

Why Hire a Phoenix Homicide Attorney?

When you face homicide charges, regardless of the categorization, the stakes are high. You must ensure that your lawyer has the necessary expertise, abilities, and legal understanding to present you with the best possible defense.

Each form of homicide has its own definition and elements under Arizona law. However, how the facts fit within the legislation might be quite specific. That is why it is critical to have an experienced murder attorney on your side to guarantee that the prosecution is not abusing its authority by charging you with homicide. If your case involves the operation of a vehicle, you may need a vehicular homicide lawyer.

Contact a Phoenix Homicide Attorney Today

We have defended people accused with different murder charges throughout Arizona at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group. Using a variety of techniques and defenses, we have been able to secure acquittals and not guilty judgments. Our homicide defense experience is extensive, and our track record in the legal world is well-known. If you or a loved one is facing a homicide charge, please contact us to find out how we can assist you. Call our Phoenix office today at 602-910-4040 or fill out our online intake form. Our Phoenix violent crimes attorney is here to represent you in your time of need.

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