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Homicide Attorney in Phoenix, Arizona

When one person deprives another of life, a homicide has occurred. The most basic of all human rights is the right to life. Thus, Arizona reserves the harshest penalties for those who kill. Some people use the terms “homicide” and “murder” interchangeably. 

Your skilled Phoenix homicide attorney can tell you that from a legal standpoint, however, their meanings are not synonymous. All murders are homicides, but not all homicides are murder, which implies killing with intention and without justification. The term “homicide” includes first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide.

Why Do I Need a Homicide Attorney in Arizona?

Homicides are grave offenses with severe consequences. A conviction can cost you your career, your relationships, and your life. Suppose you have been charged with a homicide offense. Whether it is vehicular homicide or another type of murder case, it is highly recommended to consult a credible Phoenix homicide attorney as soon as possible.

At Snader Law Group, we have been representing clients in the criminal justice system for decades. Our legal team has the expertise, abilities, and experience to successfully pursue the best possible outcome for your criminal defense case. We will aggressively defend your rights, negotiate favorable plea agreements, and win verdicts in court.

Contact our criminal defense law firm today to discuss your case and learn about your legal options.

Definitions of Arizona Homicide Charges

Phoenix homicide attorneyHomicide is the most serious offense in the criminal justice system. A person can be charged with homicide for an intentional killing, such as murder, manslaughter arising out of reckless conduct, or a death resulting from a negligent act. If you have been accused of homicide, it is crucial to have a reliable Phoenix AZ homicide lawyer by your side to help you fight for your rights.

The type of homicide charges a defendant will face is determined primarily by the accused’s intention. Each of these offenses is distinct in the elements that the state must prove and the penalties, which range from a relatively short prison term to life imprisonment and the death penalty.

First Degree Murder

First-degree murder is deliberate and premeditated. You have the intent to kill or you are aware that your actions will result in death. You may have planned the killing ahead of time. This crime is always committed with malice aforethought or with the intent to harm and kill the victim with no regard for human life.

If you are convicted of first-degree murder, you can be charged with class one felony and you could be punished with the death penalty or spend the remainder of your life in prison.

Second Degree Murder

This is intentionally or knowingly causing the death of another person, without premeditation. However, the crime must still be carried out with malice aforethought for it to be classified as second-degree. 

In Arizona, the State may charge a defendant with second-degree murder when the death occurred as a result of extreme recklessness. This consequently makes it possible to face a murder conviction if you kill someone in a DUI accident in which your blood alcohol content is extremely high.

A second-degree murder conviction in Arizona brings at least 10 years in prison. At most, it brings 22 to  maximum of 25 years. 


Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of one human being by another without malice aforethought. According to Arizona law, manslaughter involves recklessly causing the death of another person, intentionally killing someone in the heat of the moment or during a quarrel, or aiding someone in committing suicide.

This is a less serious charge that can be used in various situations where someone is killed, but which does not meet the statutory definition of murder. Manslaughter is typically charged if you can be proven to have recklessly caused the death of another person, as in a motor vehicle accident, or if you committed second-degree murder in a crime of passion or caused the death of an unborn child. A manslaughter charge does not require that you specifically intended to kill the person, except where the killing occurred as a crime of passion.

According to ARS Section 13-1103, manslaughter is a class two felony. If you are facing a manslaughter conviction in Arizona, you could spend 5 to 10 years in prison, or with enhancements, as long as 12.5 years.

In addition, manslaughter charges also include vehicular manslaughter. This type of manslaughter charge usually occurs when a person is driving under the influence and kills someone. It is a criminal offense that falls under vehicular crimes and is categorized as a class two felony, generally punishable with prison time.

Negligent Homicide

In Arizona, negligent homicide is a kind of involuntary manslaughter, 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.

Negligent homicide is a class four felony typically punishable with prison time. The court can charge you with this if you have committed an act of criminal negligence that caused the death of another person or an unborn child, even though that was not your intention. The prosecution will only need to show that you acted with extreme negligence or recklessness, which led to the victim’s death. A conviction can send you to prison for as long as three years.

Defenses to Homicide Charges

A homicide conviction in Arizona has severe consequences, and the state frequently seeks the death sentence for many first-degree murder cases. There are several possible defenses to a homicide charge. Your seasoned homicide attorney in Phoenix AZ will investigate your specific situation and work out the best strategy for the specific set of facts. For example:

  • Your constitutional rights were violated by police in the investigation or interrogation procedure, and evidence obtained illegally must be suppressed.
  • You were not the one who caused the death. You may have an alibi, or eyewitness testimony is unreliable or lacks credibility.
  • The State did not handle the physical evidence offered properly, and therefore the physical evidence is invalid.
  • The evidence is primarily circumstantial, with a credible alternative explanation to the prosecution’s theory of its meaning.
  • The prosecution cannot prove premeditation on your part.
  • The killing was done in self-defense or in defense of another person.

Call Our Experienced Phoenix Homicide Attorney Now!

Facing a homicide conviction is a terrifying prospect because the penalties are so grave. Homicide cases can become highly complicated. The specific degree of conviction hinges on the prosecution’s ability to prove whether there was intention or premeditation. Conversely, it can hinge on whether the act that resulted in the death meets the legal definition of recklessness.

Although some defendants accept the services of a Public Defender for a homicide charge, this is usually a mistake. With the prospect of many years of incarceration, and in some cases the death penalty as a distinct possibility, you need a homicide attorney with the time, skill, and experience to focus on your defense, designing a viable strategy to protect your life, freedom, and future.

There is a long road from a charge to a conviction. Therefore, consulting our knowledgeable Phoenix homicide attorneys at Snader Law Group can help you negotiate that road to achieve the best available outcome in your situation. This is true whether it is a dismissal or reduction of your homicide charges or a full acquittal at a jury trial.

Being charged with homicide in Arizona doesn’t mean you should give up hope. Our criminal defense law firm has extensive experience in handling homicide, murder, and other criminal charges. We will thoroughly review your case, gather sufficient evidence, and build a strong defense strategy to help reduce or dismiss charges. We will be with you every step of the way.

Specialized Homicide Defense in Arizona

If you are facing any type of Arizona homicide charge, you need a top-level Phoenix homicide attorney with a proven record of successful representation of other defendants in homicide cases. In the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, your best choice is to call the law offices of Howard A. Snader, LLC. Howard has been a former prosecutor and an Arizona Bar Board Certified Criminal Defense Specialist since 1995. 

He boasts the highest available AVVO rating, a perfect 10/10, placing him at the top of his profession. He handles only criminal defense matters, and his level of expertise is hard to match. Don’t take a chance on your future.

Howard Snader has the credentials, skill, and passion to protecting your rights, interests, and future. Call him immediately if law enforcement arrests or questions you. In addition, don’t talk to the police until he is by your side.

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