Manslaughter in Arizona: What You Need to Know About ARS 13-1103 

In the state of Arizona, manslaughter can sometimes be seen as somewhat of a catchall term because it includes a variety of charge types, some of which involve recklessness or accidentally taking the life of another, and some of which involve very much intentionally and knowingly killing someone. 

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Let’s take a closer look at the four core definitions of manslaughter in Arizona, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-1103. 

According to Arizona state law, you can be charged with manslaughter if any of the following are true:

  1. Causing the death of someone through recklessness (reckless behavior or choices that resulted in their death)
  2. Killing someone knowingly or intentionally either in “the heat of passion” or due to having been “adequately provoked” by the victim in an intense altercation 
  3. Being party to an assisted suicide
  4. Knowingly and/or intentionally killing someone because you are being intimidated with threats of deadly force or threats of commination by a third person demanding that you take the victim’s life.

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The Tough Truth About “Reckless” Manslaughter in Arizona

Manslaughter is most frequently associated with vehicular manslaughter in Phoenix or the kind of unintended killing in which the accused was not a criminal and not engaged in the commission of a crime but had an accident or a perilous error in judgment. 

With the exception of vehicular manslaughter that occurs as the result of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, manslaughter charges can very often involve very sad circumstances, and the accused may very likely be a good person to whom a very bad thing has happened. 

Unfortunately, the law, specifically Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 13-1103, seems to paint a very different picture — often making an already tragic event all the more difficult for both the accused and the victim’s family.

Charges reduced to vehicular manslaughter charge

A Closer Look at “Reckless” Manslaughter in Arizona: The Letter of the Law 

To be considered reckless manslaughter in the state of Arizona, the death of the victim has to be the result of the conscious disregard of the accused when faced with what is deemed both a “substantial” and “unjustifiable” risk. Some examples of this might be leaving a baby in a car thinking s/he would be okay for just a few moments or pulling the trigger on a gun thinking the chamber was empty. 

According to the law in Arizona, the decision(s) that resulted in “reckless” manslaughter had to have been a “gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”

For reasons such as these, in “reckless” manslaughter cases, experienced and thoughtful legal defense representation should be your number one priority.

Murder Charges Reduced to Manslaughter with the help from a Criminal Defense Attorney

The Upside to Manslaughter Charges in Arizona: How It Can Be Used to Your Benefit 

If you have been charged with serious charges of first, second, or third-degree murder or homicide, a qualified and well-educated Arizona criminal defense attorney can use manslaughter as a defense at trial or in the process of plea bargaining to reduce the charges against you greatly.

Your defense attorney does this by proving that what happened in your case was not murder or an intentional homicide but rather an accident or an action that was justified on your behalf due to the surrounding circumstances.

In so doing, your Phoenix criminal defense attorney gives you a far better chance of dramatically reducing the charges against you, thus reducing your sentence and giving you your life back in a few years rather than a few decades. 

Penalties for Manslaughter Charges in Arizona 

Typically considered a dangerous felony, manslaughter is a class 2 felony in the state of Arizona. But, because the situations in which manslaughter occurs can vary greatly, the penalties and sentencing range greatly.

  • For the first offense of manslaughter in the state of Arizona, the minimum sentence is 7 years, and the maximum is 21 years in prison
  • The baseline prison sentence set forth by Arizona statute for the offense of manslaughter — also sometimes referred to as the presumptive sentence or what is most commonly recommended — is 10.5 years. 
  • For those found guilty of manslaughter who already have one prior dangerous felony conviction, the minimum prison sentence is 14 years, and the maximum is 28 years, with the baseline prison sentence being 15.75 years.
  • For those charged with manslaughter who have two prior dangerous felony convictions, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 21 years with a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. The baseline sentence set forth by Arizona statute is 21 years in prison.

Defending Manslaughter in the Arizona Criminal Court System 

Manslaughter cases are infamously fraught with convolution and complexities, often requiring a multitude of expert witnesses, investigators, defense experts, accident reconstructionists, and so on. But the most important thing that must come out of the defense is proof that the accused was not reckless.

In other words, it is the Arizona defense attorney’s job to argue and provide evidence that, according to the state of Arizona’s standard of “recklessness,” the defendant’s actions were not the cause of the death or that s/he was in such a position that his or her actions were not unjustifiable and/or s/he did not consciously disregard a risk that was substantial or unjustifiable. 

The Right Manslaughter Attorney: A Serious Criminal Defense for Serious Charges

The Law Office of Daniel Hutto will fight your charges from every imaginable angle, calling in innumerable experts, witnesses, researchers, investigators, and medical professionals to challenge the prosecution’s case against you. We know that right now, you are frightened and worried for your future — our team will help to alleviate some of these stresses and fears by walking you through every legal step we plan to take to defend you. 

There are whole worlds of possibilities when it comes to manslaughter cases — they are not straightforward, but that’s something we can use to our advantage as we explore the copious methods for defending you as we work with you and come to understand every nuance of the situation that brought these charges against you. 

Building a quality defense for manslaughter cases takes time, but it also requires that you be as committed to the best possible outcome as we are. Let’s get busy crafting a defense that will help get your life back: call the Law Office of Daniel Hutto today for your free legal consultation by dialing 602.536.7878

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