Negligent Homicide Defense

negligent homicide

When you face an Arizona negligent homicide charge, your rights and freedom are at stake. The offense isn’t as severe as a charge for murder or manslaughter, but it still carries potential years of jail time.

It is your freedom and life on the line if you face a negligent homicide charge. You need an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney on your case to protect your rights. Being charged with the crime doesn’t mean you’ll be found guilty.

At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, our homicide attorneys devise the most vigorous defense possible for your criminal case. Our firm also represents several other criminal charges, including DUI Arizona, drug possession Arizona, and theft crimes Arizona.

What is Negligent Homicide?

Also known as criminally negligent homicide or involuntary manslaughter, negligent homicide is a form of murder. Per Arizona law A.R.S. §13-1102, the legal definition of negligent homicide is “negligent homicide” when a person ends another’s life through an act of criminal negligence. Failing to exercise reasonable caution or realize your behavior or activities have clear risks is criminal negligence.

The most severe crime is murder, which has different levels of severity. While it is still a significant offense, negligent homicide is the lowest murder charge.

Many Arizona negligent homicides result from bad choices causing the death of someone known to the accused.

Negligent Homicide Definition

A person commits negligent homicide under A.R.S. §13-1102 if they cause another person or unborn child’s death through criminal negligence.

To be charged with this crime, the killing of the other person must be accidental. Accidents that cause the death of another are not always criminal.

The Phoenix criminally negligent homicide lawyers at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group fight to protect your freedom if you’re charged with a crime after a fatal accident.

What is Criminal Negligence in Arizona?

When a person doesn’t realize their actions create a severe risk of harm or death to another person, criminal negligence occurs. This means the accused didn’t intentionally cause the death; however, a reasonable person would know that their behavior placed others in danger.

Manslaughter and criminal negligence are comparable, but manslaughter charges require a higher level of criminality known as “recklessness.” Therefore, penalties for negligent homicide are less severe than manslaughter.

Examples of Negligent Homicide

negligent homicide attorney phoenix

One of the most common negligent homicides is DUI vehicular manslaughter. This can happen if a hit-and-run accident causes death or when a driver is impaired by a substance that alters their faculties, such as alcohol or drugs. 

Some examples of other types of accidents that may lead to negligent homicide charges:

  • Leaving a child in a hot car. A parent forgets their child is in the car and leaves them inside their car seat all day. When the parent returns to the vehicle after work, they discover their child has died from heatstroke. This tragedy is an accident; however, a prosecutor could charge the parent with negligent homicide.  
  • Not calling 911 soon enough. Two friends are getting high together, and one overdoses. The other friend is afraid they will get in trouble and doesn’t call 911 right away. By the time she calls and the paramedics arrive, the overdosed friend has died. The friend who waited too long to call 911 could face a negligent homicide charge. 
  • Babysitter not paying attention to a child. A grandparent is babysitting his two-year-old grandson. He leaves the backdoor open because the weather is nice. But the child goes outside and falls into the swimming pool. The child drowns before the grandparent realizes the child is missing. The prosecution could bring a charge of negligent homicide against the grandparent. 

Hunting accidents, motor vehicle homicide, recklessly handling a loaded weapon, recklessly starting a fire that kills another person or a firefighter, and leaving a car running in a closed garage are more examples of accidents that could lead to criminal charges. 

In addition, accidents causing death to an unborn child (unless the person was giving medical treatment to the unborn child or mother or performing an abortion) is also negligent homicide Arizona. A mother’s negligent actions that cause their unborn child to die are negligent homicide also.

Read also: Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

Crime or Tragic Accident?

negligent homicide lawyer phoenix

The situations detailed above show the thin distinction between negligent homicide and a terrible accident. Sadly, people are sometimes charged with negligent homicide for involvement in a tragedy that hurt a loved one or family member. 

Facing charges after such a horrific event makes the situation even worse. The family is processing their grief and often doesn’t want a family member charged for a tragic accident. 

It is critical to have a skilled negligent homicide Phoenix lawyer representing you if you or a loved one are charged with negligent homicide. Your attorney makes sure you aren’t unfairly prosecuted for an unfortunate accident. 

Criminally Negligent Homicide vs Manslaughter

Under Arizona law (A.R.S. §13-1102), negligent homicide and manslaughter are similar crimes. However, with manslaughter, you are aware of the risk your reckless behavior poses, and with negligent homicide, you are not. 

It is unintentional manslaughter and used to be referred to as involuntary manslaughter. Be aware that the prosecution may try to charge you with manslaughter or second-degree murder, which are more serious charges. 

Two factors usually determine whether a conviction is given in a negligent homicide case:

  • A plea bargain
  • The jury convicts a defendant of the less severe charge of negligent homicide instead of the homicide charge tried by the prosecutor.

For instance, let’s look at the child left in a hot car example. If the parent intentionally left the child in the car and went to work, a manslaughter charge is probable. On the other hand, the parent who forgot the child was in the car did not realize they had abandoned their child. A charge of negligent homicide is appropriate in this instance. In any case, whether manslaughter or negligent homicide charges are filed depends on the available evidence to establish whether the parent committed their action knowingly.  

Negligent Homicide Legal Penalties

negligent homicide lawyers phoenix

In Arizona, the first offense of negligent homicide is a Class 4 felony. A felony is a harsher offense than a misdemeanor. While misdemeanors can lead to fines and jail time, a felony conviction means a more extended prison stay. A felony conviction means more than the loss of your freedom. It also means a loss of certain rights like voting and gun ownership. 

How Many Years Can You Get For Negligent Homicide Phoenix?

In the absence of a deadly weapon like a gun or a dangerous instrument, such as a baseball bat or automobile, and if you don’t have a prior criminal record, your possible sentence for a Class 4 Non-Dangerous Phoenix negligent homicide includes:

  • 0 days to 12 months in jail and probation; or
  • A year to 3.75 years in prison 

*Prior convictions result in longer prison sentences. A past criminal history or more severe types of crime can lead to up to 16 years in prison. 

A Class 4 Dangerous Felony charge means you used a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument. And for this, you face mandatory time behind bars.

The following penalties are possible in this case:

At least four years and no more than eight years prison sentence

*Once again, a prior criminal history equals a harsher sentence. The amount of time you receive in prison depends on your circumstances.

You also receive the “felon” label as a social punishment. You have to click “yes” when asked this question in the future if you are convicted of a felony. This stigma makes it hard to find or keep a job after serving your time and repaying your debt to society. 

Read also: What Felonies Cannot Be Expunged?

Defenses to Negligent Homicide in Arizona

negligent homicide attorneys phoenix

Negligent homicide involves no intent to kill. So, arguing you didn’t intend to commit the crime or that the killing was justified isn’t a defense. 

The primary defenses against this charge include: 

  • Accident – Arguing that the death was an accident and not a criminal action is the most common defense against negligent homicide charges. You pose the argument that the prosecution can’t prove your behavior was criminally negligent. Instead, any reasonable person in the same situation you faced could have caused the death. 
  • Did Not Cause the Death – Arguing that your actions didn’t cause the death is another common defense to negligent homicide. Another person or event caused the death. 

Statute of Limitations for Negligent Homicide

The time in which the state must file charges against a defendant is called a statute of limitations. When this period ends, the prosecution loses the right to do so. There is a seven-year statute of limitations for Class 4 offenses such as negligent homicide in Arizona. 

Note: The statute of limitations only applies while the defendant is physically within the state of Arizona. If the defendant leaves the state, it “stops the clock” for the amount of time they spend away, and it does not count against the statute of limitations.

Arizona Negligent Homicide Defense Attorney

There are significant consequences when charged with an offense like Arizona negligent homicide. It would be best to have an experienced criminal defense attorney evaluating every defense possible. 

The knowledgeable and dedicated Phoenix negligent homicide attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group develop a defense plan customized to aggressively provide you with the most robust defense possible. Please contact our legal team today at (602) 910-4040 or complete our online intake form. We offer a free consultation to evaluate your situation. In addition to criminal law, our legal team also handles Phoenix immigration, Phoenix car accidents, and Phoenix product liability

Read also: Homicide Defense Attorney

es_MXEspañol de México