Different Types of Murder Charges in Arizona

Different Types of Murder Charges in Arizona

A murder accusation is one of the most serious charges you can ever get. This is why it’s very important that you get a skilled and even an aggressive lawyer who will create a strong defense for you.

Arizona has several classes of murder, including first- and second-degree murder, vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter, manslaughter, and negligent homicide.
Even if you didn’t plan to do the crime, sometimes the circumstances get out of control, or perhaps it was self-defense. You could easily be charged with murder, homicide, or manslaughter if you killed someone in an auto accident. All it takes is being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Only because you have killed someone in the heat of the moment doesn’t mean that you will face a first-degree murder charge. No matter the circumstances of your charges, don’t say anything to the officers and don’t resist arrest.

Murder, Homicide, and Manslaughter

Homicide refers to first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide. A murder charge means that the defendant killed another person with intent or premeditation. Manslaughter means that the defendant did not have the intent to kill the other person.

First-Degree Murder

If the court indicts a defendant on a first-degree murder charge, the court believed that the defendant did all of the elements of the crime:

  • The defendant had an intention to kill or the defendant knew or should have known that their actions would cause death to the other person;
  • The defendant’s actions were premeditated;
  • The defendant’s actions caused the death of another person.

If a defendant caused the death of another in the commission of another crime, such as sexual conduct with a minor, sexual assault, terrorism, narcotics offenses, kidnapping, burglary, arson, escape, or child abuse, the prosecutor could charge the defendant with first-degree murder. The sentence for this charge is life imprisonment or death.

Second-Degree Murder

If a prosecutor charges a defendant with second-degree murder, it means that the defendant intentionally killed another person, without premeditation. The elements of second-degree murder include:

  • The defendant intentionally caused the death;
  • The defendant knew or should have known that their actions would cause serious physical injury or death;
  • The defendant act recklessly

Second-degree murder is also a Class 1 felony. If you get charged with second-degree murder you could face 10 to 25 years in prison.


Manslaughter, or a Class 2 felony, has a lesser charge than murder; the prison time is 4 to 10 years for first offenders (in most cases). If the prosecutor charges a defendant with manslaughter, they believe that the defendant did the following:

  • The defendant act recklessly
  • The defendant’s reckless actions caused the death of another person

If a defendant commits second-degree murder with no premeditation then their actions occurred because of a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion after the victim provoked the defendant, the prosecutor may charge the defendant with manslaughter.
If you’re facing murder charges, don’t wait, but call a skilled criminal defense attorney. Let our team of lawyers review your case and stand by your side. Call our office now.