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Posted on September 22, 2021 in Murder

Is There a Statute of Limitations for Murder in Arizona?

There is no statute of limitations for a homicide in Arizona. Arizona Revised Statute 13-107 states that, “[a] prosecution for any homicide may be brought at any time.” This means the state can prosecute someone at any time, no matter how long ago the alleged conduct occurred.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

Statutes of limitations exist for most crimes but not for murder charges in Arizona. A statute of limitations is a time limit for the state to prosecute someone for a crime.

Most crimes have statutes of limitations to comply with the Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial. Lawmakers know that all of these rights are harmed by not having a statute of limitations in place. However, when it comes to murder and homicide cases, state legislators determined the crimes are too serious to allow someone to escape justice due to the passage of time.

Evidence of your innocence (also called exculpatory evidence) can disappear as years go by. Witnesses move or pass away, fingerprints disappear, DNA evidence is destroyed by the sun and rain. A prosecution digging into the distant past is a huge problem.

Are the Statutes of Limitations Different for Different Homicide Charges?

There are four different types of murder/homicide charges under Arizona law. Most people don’t know the distinction between different types of murder in the Arizona Criminal Code. Homicide is defined to include first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide.

The four different types of homicide have varying levels of punishment based on the culpability of the defendant. Culpability means the level of intent and blameworthiness an actor had when committing an alleged crime.

The elements of the four crimes are:

  • First Degree Murder: Intentionally or knowingly causing death of a person with premeditation (planning).
  • Second Degree Murder: Intentionally or knowingly causing death of a person without premeditation, or acting recklessly with extreme indifference to life and causing death.
  • Manslaughter: Recklessly causing the death of someone, or comitting second degree murder in the heat of passion caused by adequate provocation of the victim.
  • Negligent Homicide: Causing the death of someone through criminal negligence (grossly failing to use reasonable caution in the face of serious risks).

All four types of murder have no statute of limitations. The State can prosecute you no matter how long ago the alleged criminal acts occurred.

What Should I Do if I am Being Investigated for Homicide?

Stop doing internet research about homicide investigations. Your internet search history can be seized from your internet provider and used against you in court as evidence of guilt.

Even if you are completely innocent, you need to treat your charges seriously. The police are not your friend; they are out for one thing only: convictions. You could say the wrong thing and the police could charge you with a crime.

Contact a criminal defense team right away if you are the subject of any type of homicide investigation. The law is too complex and nuanced to think you can protect your rights alone: you can’t. Only an experienced criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights fully.

Your lawyer can conduct their own investigation into your charges to gather exculpatory evidence and identify defenses to the charges. They will ensure that law enforcement respects your constitutional rights and doesn’t obtain evidence illegally.

If police did violate your rights, your lawyer can petition the court to exclude tainted evidence. This tact could prevent the prosecution from proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Contact a criminal defense lawyer today.

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