Negligent homicide is a serious charge in Arizona, which carries potential prison time that can last for years. While less serious than a charge of murder or manslaughter, a conviction for negligent homicide will nonetheless seriously impact your rights and freedom.
If you or someone you love has been charged with negligent homicide, an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney can defend your case to protect your rights. Just because you are charged with the crime does not mean you are or will be found guilty of the crime.
What is Negligent Homicide?
Negligent homicide is defined in Arizona law by A.R.S. 13-1102. It states that a person commits the offense of negligent homicide if he or she:
- Causes the death of another person, including an unborn child,
- With criminal negligence.
To be charged with negligent homicide means that the killing of another person was not intentional. Rather, it is through some form of "accident" that rises to the level of criminal liability. Not all accidents that cause another person's death are necessarily criminal.
What is Criminal Negligence in Arizona?
Criminal negligence means that an individual fails to realize that there is a considerable risk that the act being committed can result in serious harm or death to another person. This means that while the person did not intend to cause death, his or her conduct was a behavior of the kind that a reasonable person would not have done because that reasonable person would be aware of the risks the conduct would cause to other people.
Criminal negligence is similar to the charge of manslaughter, but is different because manslaughter requires the higher mental culpability of "recklessness." The punishment for criminal negligence is therefore not as severe as the punishment for manslaughter.
Arizona Penalties for Criminal Negligence
The penalties of a conviction for criminal negligence are serious and are not to be taken lightly. If the negligent homicide did not involve the use of a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon, then the crime is considered a non-dangerous Class 4 felony. If convicted, you face the following penalties:
First Offense (non-dangerous)
- Prison between 1 year and 3.75 years.
Repeat Offender (non-dangerous)
- Prison between 2.25 to 7.5 years in prison.
If the negligent homicide did involve a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon, it is considered a dangerous Class 4 felony. If convicted, you face the following penalties:
- Minimum prison term of 4 years
- Maximum prison term of 8 years (with a presumed prison term of 6 years).
Not only do you face the penalties listed above, but you face the label of "felon." You will now have to check "yes" on a box that asks if you have been convicted of a felony. This can greatly decrease your chances of obtaining or maintaining employment after you pay your debt to society via your sentence.
Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for negligent homicide, your freedom and your life are at risk. An experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp can represent you in your defense to protect your constitutional rights. We serve clients in Mohave, Yavapai, La Paz, and Coconino Counties, including the communities of Kingman, Bullhead City, Lake Havasu, Parker, Prescott, Williams and Flagstaff, Arizona. Contact us today for a free consultation.