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Types of Murder Charges in Arizona

October 23, 2020

Murder is widely considered to be the most heinous of all crimes. As you might expect, a murder conviction in Arizona results in severe penalties. If you’ve been arrested for any type of murder charge, or you believe you may be under investigation, it’s imperative to retain the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney immediately. Do not answer any questions from police interrogators until you have secured legal representation.

First-Degree Murder

Arizona state law defines first-degree murder as the taking of another person’s life through an intentional, premeditated act. Premeditation is the key characteristic of this criminal charge. It’s the act of thinking about a crime before committing it. A person might take days to plan a murder or only a matter of seconds. A defendant may also be charged with first-degree murder if the death occurred during the commission of another felony. For example, a person might be killed during a kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, or act of arson. In this situation, it isn’t necessary to prove intent to kill. Note that a person might be charged with first-degree murder under these circumstances even if they only participated in the other felony, but didn’t commit the murder. First-degree murder is a class one felony—the most serious type of charge. Penalties can include the death penalty, life in prison without parole, or life in prison with parole eligibility after 25 years.

Second-Degree Murder

Under Arizona law, second-degree murder is defined as the killing of another person through an intentional, but not premeditated act. For example, a person might act in a way that he or she knows could result in the serious injury or death of another person. One common situation is driving while intoxicated. A conviction of second-degree murder carries a minimum of 10 years in prison, with a potential maximum of 22 years.

At the law firm of Janet Altschuler in Tucson, we provide vigorous criminal defense services for those accused of violent crimes, including homicide and manslaughter. Our knowledgeable attorney applies effective legal strategies designed to get charges reduced or dropped entirely, or to secure acquittals. Call our office at (520) 247-1789 to request a consultation.