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Posted on November 25, 2020 in Criminal Defense

What To Do Next If You’ve Been Charged With Manslaughter in Phoenix

If you have been charged with manslaughter, invoke your right to remain silent. Do not answer questions, give a statement, or talk with anyone about the situation other than a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer. Trying to explain your “side of the story” to the police officers, investigators, or the prosecutor will only make matters worse for you.

Manslaughter is a serious criminal offense. It is a Class 2 Felony, which could result in a prison sentence of three to 21 years. Immediately request an attorney.

You have the right to legal counsel. The court appoints an attorney to represent you if you are unable to hire a private lawyer. In most cases, it is best to hire an attorney who has experience handling manslaughter cases.

Public defenders handle all criminal cases assigned to them by the court. They do not have extensive experience handling any particular case. You want and need a lawyer who has substantial experience defending individuals against murder charges.

What is Manslaughter?

Many states have manslaughter laws that divide the charges into involuntary and voluntary crimes. Arizona criminal laws do not classify the crime of manslaughter as voluntary or involuntary. Instead, it classifies murder as:

  • First-degree murder
  • Second-degree murder
  • Negligent homicide
  • Manslaughter

The circumstances of the crime dictate whether you are charged with murder, homicide, or manslaughter.

Manslaughter is defined as causing another person’s death through reckless behavior. Five situations fall under manslaughter charges:

  • Murder as a crime of passion
  • Reckless behavior that causes the death of another person
  • Murder committed under coercion
  • Assisting someone to commit suicide
  • Intentionally or unintentionally injuring a pregnant mother, thereby causes the death of the baby (with exceptions for medical care and authorized abortions)

The facts and circumstances of the case determine the punishment for a guilty verdict.

The presumptive sentence for manslaughter is five years in prison. However, mitigating circumstances could reduce the sentence to three years in prison. Aggravating circumstances can result in a 12.5 year or longer prison sentence.

The judge could also order fines, probation, and other penalties.

Potential Defenses to Manslaughter Charges

The potential defenses in your case depend on the facts of your case. Manslaughter involving reckless behavior requires that your conduct demonstrates a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable individual would have used in a similar situation. The prosecution must prove that your actions constituted a substantial and unjustifiable risk.

You can argue that your conduct does not meet the definition of recklessness for a manslaughter charge.

Another defense would be alleging that the death of the other person was not your fault. Your actions did not bring about the death of the deceased. The actions of the victim or another party resulted in the victim’s death.

There is also a long list of defenses used in many criminal cases based on violations of your constitutional rights. Other defenses could include attacking the validity of search warrants or flaws in the investigation by the police. The defenses could involve flawed lineups, crime scene mistakes, false statements, mistaken identity, and forensic test errors.

The key is to have a criminal defense lawyer who can investigate the case and uncover all evidence to help you develop a winning defense strategy for court. Most individuals cannot do this alone. They lack the time, resources, skills, and experience to investigate a criminal case involving manslaughter charges.

What is the Most Important Thing You Can Do After Hiring an Attorney?

Follow your attorney’s instructions. Do not try to investigate the case yourself. If you have information or evidence, turn it over to your lawyer immediately.

Do not try to contact the victim’s family or potential witnesses. Only talk to your lawyer about your case. If you talk to family and friends about the case, they could be called as witnesses at your trial.

Avoid using social media. Ask your attorney how to handle your social media accounts. Even though you might not post anything about the case, an innocent post could give the wrong impression about your character, which could influence a jury if the prosecution is able to enter the posts into evidence.

Lastly, make sure that you follow all the terms of your release while waiting for your trial to begin. You do not want to make a mistake that could put you back in jail. You also do not want to make it more difficult to defend yourself when your trial begins.

 

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