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Phoenix Homicide Attorney

Homicide is one of the most serious crimes that a person can be accused of. Depending on the charge and the verdict rendered by the courts, a defendant could face life in prison or even the death penalty. The heavy consequences of homicide are understandable since taking the life of another has severe legal and moral implications. However, that does not mean a person who has been charged with homicide does not deserve a robust legal defense. After all, many circumstances could lead to homicide, some of which could lead to a reduced charge and less severe punishment.

If you have been charged with homicide in Phoenix, Arizona, contact the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, PC as soon as possible. We are a highly-touted law firm that has received accolades from various respected legal publications. Our attorneys have over 90 years of combined experience that they will use to help you. So contact us as soon as possible to get the legal defense you need. Your future is in jeopardy, and time is of the essence, so get in touch with us as soon as you can.

A man arrested with handcufs on.

What is Homicide?

Homicide is defined as the killing of one human being by another; however, the act can be intentional or unintentional. The intentional act of killing someone is called murder, and there are different degrees of murder depending on whether it was premeditated. The accidental killing of another person is called manslaughter, and like murder, there are different degrees of manslaughter depending on the defendant’s behavior.

The Types of Homicide in Phoenix, Arizona

The state of Arizona recognizes the four following types of homicide:

First-Degree Murder

This is the highest degree of homicide in Arizona and is defined by Statute ARS 13-1105 as someone causing another person’s intentional, premeditated death. There are three ways a person can commit first-degree murder in Arizona:

  • The intentional, premeditated killing of another, if someone buys a gun, then stalks and kills another person with it.
  • Intentionally killing a law enforcement officer while they are in the line of duty.
  • Killing someone while engaging in another felony. For example, if someone robs a liquor store and kills a bystander who tries to pursue them.

First-degree murder is a Class 1 Felony punishable by life in prison or capital punishment, i.e., the death penalty.

Second-Degree Murder

According to Arizona statute ARS 13-1104, second-degree murder is when someone performs an intentional or reckless act that they know will kill another person. For example, if an employee brings a gun to the office and then shoots their boss after receiving a complaint from them. Since the killing is a spur-of-the-moment act and not premeditated, it would be second-degree murder. Second-degree murder is a Class 1 Felony, and the perpetrator faces 10 to 25 years in prison.


Arizona statute ARS 13-1103 states that there are five types of manslaughter:

  1. Causing someone else’s death via a reckless act, such as accidentally shooting someone while waving around a loaded gun with its safety off.
  2. Killing someone in the heat of passion, such as during a fight where one person fatally stabs another.
  3. Intentionally helping someone commit suicide.
  4. Killing someone else under coercion or the threat of physical violence or death.
  5. Causing the death of an unborn baby by harming the mother.

Manslaughter is a Class 2 Felony, and perpetrators face up to 10 years in prison.

Negligent Homicide

Negligent homicide is defined by state statute ARS 13-1102 as causing the death of another via a criminally negligent act. An example would be if someone purposefully started a fire that kills someone. Negligent homicide is a Class 4 Felony punishable by fines up to $150,000 and three years in prison.

Homicide Defenses

As serious as homicide is, some defenses are available that can reduce the charges.

Justifiable Homicide

There are a few scenarios where a defense team can argue that a homicide was justified; for example, the defendant was defending themself, someone else, or their property. There are other rare, though still valid arguments for justifiable homicide, such as if the defendant was forced to kill someone or if killing someone prevented that person from committing a crime.

Lack of Intent

There are cases where a person did not intentionally intend to kill another; it might not excuse the homicide, but it may be enough to get the charges reduced. Some defenses proving lack of intent include the following:

Insanity – If it can be proven that the defendant was not of sound mind when they committed the homicide, then it means that they lacked the mental state for homicide. If insanity can be proven, the defendant will be sent to a mental institution rather than jail.

Diminished Capacity – This is also known as a provocation and is defined as a state of temporary insanity. It can be brought on by being in an intensely stressful situation that causes a mental break. The defendant must not have caused the situation, and it must be proven that a normal person would also find the situation incredibly stressful.

Intoxication – If it can be proven that the defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when they killed someone, then it can be argued that they lacked the required mental state to commit homicide intentionally. This defense is more convincing if the intoxication was involuntary rather than voluntary.

Contact the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, PC if You Are Charged With Homicide

A homicide charge is life-changing, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be defended. If you contact us, we will listen to your story, closely examine the facts of your case, and formulate a defense strategy designed to reduce the charges against you as much as possible. We are well aware of the seriousness of a homicide charge, which is why we will marshal all of our resources, experience, and knowledge to help you. 

The homicide charge will have already had a profound and negative effect on your life, but by getting the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, PC to help you, you have a chance of eventually starting a new chapter in your life. Arizona is a death penalty state, and even though that punishment is rarely used, it is still a possibility. So, do not delay and contact a Phoenix criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Hernandez & Hamilton, PC as soon as possible so that we can start building your defense. We will fight for you every step of the way.