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Posted on February 9, 2021 in Crime

Can You Be Prosecuted for Causing Someone’s Suicide in Phoenix

Thousands of people commit suicide each year in the United States. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death. During 2018, the rate of suicide was more than two and a half times the homicide rate. 

In most cases, a person commits suicide alone. However, there are cases in which another person could assist the person in committing suicide. Depending on the circumstances, assisting someone in committing suicide could be a crime.

What is Suicide?

Suicide is defined as taking one’s own life. A person intentionally harms themselves to end their life. Attempted suicide is an unsuccessful attempt to end one’s life.

Many factors can contribute to the risk of suicide. For example, depression and other mental health disorders can increase a person’s risk of suicide. A family history of suicide and the use of alcohol or drugs can also increase the chance that a person might commit suicide. 

Can Someone Be Arrested for Causing a Person’s Suicide in Phoenix?

Some states have specific laws that make it illegal to assist or encourage someone to commit suicide. Arizona’s manslaughter statute refers to suicide. 

Manslaughter is defined by statute as:

  • Recklessly causing the death of another individual
  • Knowingly and intentionally killing someone in the heat of passion or because of a sudden argument caused by provocation from the victim
  • Intentionally providing the physical means for another person to commit suicide when you know that the person intends to kill themselves
  • Knowingly and intentionally killing a person while being threatened or coerced to do so with the immediate use of deadly physical force upon you or a third person
  • Recklessly or knowingly causing the death of an unborn child through physical injury to the mother

Arizona does not distinguish between involuntary and voluntary manslaughter. If you are charged with manslaughter, you face a Class 2 felony charge. The potential penalty for a Class 2 felony is up to 12.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Elements Required to Convict for Assisting Suicide in Arizona

For the prosecution to obtain a conviction for manslaughter, it must prove that you gave the person the means to commit suicide. The means to commit suicide could include a firearm, drugs, a knife, or any other instrument the person could use to kill themselves. Lending your vehicle to a person could be considered giving the person the means to commit suicide if they use your car to kill themselves. 

The prosecution must also prove that you knew the person was going to kill themselves. Proving that you knew that the person was going to commit suicide could be challenging to prove without written communication between you and the victim or an admission by you that you knew the person was suicidal. 

Unlike other states, verbally encouraging someone to commit suicide in Phoenix would not likely result in a manslaughter conviction. 

What Should I Do if I Am Charged with Manslaughter or Another Crime Related to Suicide?

Even though the prosecution might not win, you could still be arrested and charged with manslaughter related to another person’s suicide. As with any other criminal charge, it is not in your best interest to talk to the police.

Your best course of action is to remain silent except asking for a criminal defense lawyer. Answering questions or providing a statement only helps the prosecution gather more evidence against you.

If you are released from jail without talking to a lawyer, contact a defense attorney immediately. Do not discuss the case with anyone other than a lawyer. Under no circumstances should you try to contact the person’s family or friends. 

Write down as much as you can remember about the incident for your lawyer. Make a list of potential witnesses for and against you, including what information they could offer. If you have any written correspondence between you and the victim, including text messages or other electronic communication, save those messages for your lawyer to review.

You are innocent until proven guilty. However, the steps you take after being arrested can aid in your defense or make it more difficult for an attorney to help you fight manslaughter charges. 

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