Types Of Homicide Charges In Arizona

Homicide is a serious accusation with life-altering penalties upon conviction. If you were charged with homicide, you need a skilled Arizona criminal defense attorney to represent you. Arizona law has several categories for this charge, and each crime carries its own distinct penalties.

Regardless of the circumstances of your case, Grand Canyon Law Group will work with you to build a strong defense and tell your side of the story. Sometimes, those accused of murder were defending themselves or were involved in a tragic but unintentional accident that led to another person’s death. In these cases, the prosecutor should take lack of intent into consideration, as the law distinguishes accidental deaths from premeditated and deliberate murders.

Part of our job as criminal defense attorneys is negotiating with prosecutors to reduce charges when applicable. Call our firm to discuss the types of homicide charges in Arizona with a knowledgeable attorney.


There are several categories of homicide charges in Arizona: first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide. Murder charges involve a level of intent or premeditation for the crime. For manslaughter charges, intent is not a factor. If the prosecutor cannot prove intent, a skilled attorney could negotiate murder charges down to manslaughter, reducing the potential prison sentence.


First-degree murder is defined as causing someone else’s death with intent and premeditation. This is the highest and most serious homicide charge. Under Arizona law, first-degree murder can involve:

  • Killing someone in an intentional and premeditated way
  • Intentionally killing an officer in the line of duty
  • Causing someone’s death during the commission of another felony

Given that first-degree murder is one of the most serious offenses someone could commit, a conviction could carry a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Moreover, some first-degree murder charges are subject to the death penalty.


Second-degree murder involves someone killing another person through an action they know could cause death, whether intentionally or recklessly. Unlike first-degree murder, second-degree charges do not involve an element of premeditation. As a Class 1 felony, a second-degree murder conviction could carry ten to twenty-five years in prison.


There are several different types of manslaughter in Arizona:

  • Causing someone’s death through a reckless act
  • Killing someone during the “heat of passion”
  • Assisting someone in committing suicide
  • Self-defense killing
  • Causing the death of an unborn child by injuring the mother

Someone convicted of manslaughter could face ten years in prison.


When someone dies due to a criminally negligent act, it is considered negligent homicide. Some examples of negligent homicide include texting while driving, causing a fire negligently, or leaving a child in an unattended car during hot weather. Someone convicted of negligent homicide could face eight years in prison and significant fines.


Being charged with homicide is a life-changing event that requires the expertise of an Arizona criminal defense attorney. If you are charged with murder, manslaughter, or another homicide offense, you face significant prison time and other penalties.

However, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in our system of justice; you are entitled to a strong defense. When you work with a defense attorney, they can negotiate with prosecutors to reduce various types of homicide charges if the state cannot meet its burden on intent or premeditation. Do not hesitate to contact Grand Canyon Law Group today to discuss your legal options.