Negligent Homicide Arizona

negligent homicide arizonaLosing a child is difficult for any parent, no matter what stage of development the child is in. Once we know that they are going to be coming, they place themselves in our hearts forever. What happens if you are in a car accident while your husband is driving, and you lose your unborn child?

What is Negligent Homicide?

In the eyes of the Arizona law, a fetus, no matter what stage of development, is considered a living thing. A.R.S. § 13-1102 states that a person commits negligent homicide if their criminal negligence causes the death of another person, including an unborn child. In the revised statute for the state of Arizona, the words “including an unborn child” are specifically added to the generalized definition of negligent homicide.

Basically, negligent homicide is an offshoot of involuntary manslaughter that has the caveat pertaining to a criminally negligent act causing the death. The felony type does drastically change between manslaughter and negligent homicide. Manslaughter is categorized as a class 2 felony.

If convicted of negligent homicide, it is a class 4 felony. As with all sentences in Arizona, prior convictions play a large role in the sentencing of a new conviction. If there are no priors, the first offense can carry a prison term of 1 to 3.75 years. A second offense can carry a prison term of up to 7.5 years. In either scenario, the convicted will lose their right to possess a firearm and it will appear on their permanent record indefinitely.

Building A Defense for Negligent Homicide

Some of the normal defenses that can be used when arguing a negligent homicide case are:

  • The actions that were exhibited by the defendant did not violate the standard of care and that a similar person presented with the very same situation would have acted in the same manner.
  • The defendant was acting in self-defense. This means that there has to be proof that the defendant believed that they were in serious or imminent danger.
  • There was an inability for the defendant to understand the difference between right and wrong due to diminished capacity, aka the insanity defense.
  • There was no negligent behavior. If there was no negligence, there was no crime.

In the example of a car accident where the unborn child of a woman is killed and the husband was driving, the prosecution may try to argue that the husband did not use a standard of care while driving the car. He may have been distracted or was not following traffic laws.

An Arizona criminal defense attorney can help in situations like this. Your lawyer can argue that there was not anything that could have been done to stop the accident that caused the death of the fetus, thus violating the expectation of a standard of care. In most situations, there is only testimony and a police report of the accident used as evidence in car accident cases.

With a highly competent defense, it is possible for your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution and have the charges reduced or dropped altogether.

Click here to get information on the death penalty in Arizona.