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Phoenix Murder Attorneys

Facing Murder Charges in Arizona?

Without question, the most serious crime that a person can commit is murder. When a person intentionally ends someone else's life, the penalties are the most severe out of all penalties listed in the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.). There are two different kinds of murder that a person can commit: second degree murder and first degree murder. The definitions and consequences for each are specifically outlines in the state laws.

If you've found yourself facing the daunting charge of murder in Arizona, seeking immediate legal representation is critical. At MayesTelles PLLC, we understand the gravity of these allegations and are ready to offer you unwavering support and a vigorous defense. Our team of Phoenix murder defense attorneys boasts extensive experience in navigating the complexities of murder cases throughout the state of Arizona. Committed to protecting your rights and tirelessly advocating for your case, our dedicated team of defense lawyers are prepared to relentlessly fight for a reduction or dismissal of your charges. Don't delay—reach out today to begin crafting your defense strategy and secure the advocacy you deserve.

Call (602) 428-7104 to discuss your defense options with our Phoenix murder defense lawyers now in a free consultation!

Murder in the Second Degree

According to ARS §13-1104, a person commits second degree murder when they intentionally kill another person, including an unborn child, without premeditation.

Three ways an individual can be charged with second degree murder include:

  • Intentionally causing the death of another person
  • Committing conduct expected to cause serious injury or death to another
  • Displaying extreme indifference to human life, leading to reckless behavior that causes the death of another

Second degree murder is charged as a class 1 felony.

Murder in the First Degree

ARS §13-1105 describes first degree murder as the premeditated ending of a person or unborn child's life.

First degree murder is the sole capital offense under Arizona state law. As such, it will incur the death penalty or life in prison without chance of parole.

Acts that can constitute first degree murder include:

  • Knowing that actions will cause death and carrying them out
  • Acting alone or in a group to commit sexual conduct that leads to death
  • Intentionally acting to kill a law enforcement officer

Arizona Penalties for Murder

In Arizona, the penalties for murder can vary based on the specific circumstances of the crime. Arizona law categorizes murder into different degrees, each carrying its own set of penalties

First-Degree Murder

This is the most severe charge for murder in Arizona. It involves premeditation and intent. The potential penalties for first-degree murder in Arizona include:

  • The death penalty
  • Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole

Second-Degree Murder

This charge is applied when the killing lacks premeditation but occurs under circumstances demonstrating extreme indifference to human life. The penalties for second-degree murder in Arizona typically include:

  • A minimum sentence of 10 to 25 years in prison
  • Up to life imprisonment

Felony Murder

In cases where a death occurs during the commission of a serious felony (such as burglary, robbery, or sexual assault), individuals involved in the felony can be charged with felony murder. The penalties for felony murder are similar to those for first or second-degree murder, depending on the circumstances.

Enhanced Sentencing for Murder Charges

Aggravating factors can enhance the severity of the sentence for murder convictions in Arizona. These factors may include:

  • the victim's age,
  • whether the murder was committed for financial gain,
  • heinousness of the crime,
  • prior criminal history of the offender,
  • and other considerations.

Murder Trial Process in Arizona

The murder trial process in Arizona typically involves several stages, from the initial arrest to the final verdict. Below is an overview of the general steps involved in a murder trial in Arizona:

  1. Arrest: When law enforcement officials have probable cause to believe that an individual has committed murder, they will make an arrest. The suspect is then taken into custody.

  2. Initial Appearance: After the arrest, the suspect is brought before a judge for an initial appearance. During this stage, the judge informs the defendant of the charges against them, their rights, and sets bail if applicable.

  3. Grand Jury or Preliminary Hearing: In Arizona, a prosecutor may present the case to a grand jury to determine if there's enough evidence for an indictment. Alternatively, a preliminary hearing may be held to establish whether there is sufficient probable cause to proceed with the trial.

  4. Arraignment: The arraignment is where the defendant enters a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest) to the charges. If the plea is not guilty, the trial process begins.

  5. Pre-Trial Motions and Discovery: Both the prosecution and defense can file motions related to evidence, witnesses, or legal issues. The discovery process involves sharing evidence and information between the two sides.

  6. Jury Selection: A jury is selected through a process called voir dire. Both the prosecution and defense attorneys question potential jurors to ensure impartiality.

  7. Trial: The trial begins with opening statements from both sides, followed by the presentation of evidence, witness testimony, cross-examinations, and closing arguments.

  8. Jury Deliberation: Once both sides have presented their case and the judge has given instructions to the jury, the jurors deliberate in private to reach a verdict.

  9. Verdict: The jury returns to the courtroom and announces their verdict of guilty or not guilty. In some cases, if the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, a mistrial may be declared.

  10. Sentencing: If the defendant is found guilty, a separate hearing may be held for sentencing, where the judge determines the appropriate punishment within the guidelines set by Arizona law.

  11. Appeals: After the trial and sentencing, the convicted person may appeal the verdict or sentence to a higher court if they believe legal errors occurred during the trial.

Possible Defense Strategies for Murder in Phoenix, AZ

Defenses for murder in Arizona can vary based on the circumstances of the case. Some common defenses that might be used in murder cases include:

  • Self-Defense or Defense of Others: If the accused person can demonstrate that they acted to protect themselves or others from imminent harm or danger, they might claim self-defense. This defense asserts that the use of force was necessary and reasonable under the circumstances.

  • Insanity or Mental Incapacity: The defendant might argue that, at the time of the crime, they were not mentally competent to understand the nature or consequences of their actions. If successful, this defense could lead to a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity or diminished capacity.

  • Lack of Intent or Accidental Killing: Murder typically involves intent. If the accused can demonstrate that the death was accidental or unintentional, it might result in a lesser charge or a complete acquittal.

  • Alibi: A defendant may provide evidence or witnesses to prove that they were elsewhere at the time the murder was committed, establishing an alibi to refute their involvement.

  • Mistaken Identity: In cases where there might be confusion or mistaken identity regarding the perpetrator of the crime, the defense might argue that the accused was not the person responsible for the murder.

  • Entrapment or Duress: The defense might claim that the defendant was coerced, threatened, or forced into committing the murder by another person.

  • Justifiable Homicide: Certain situations, such as law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty or citizens acting in defense of themselves or others, might constitute justifiable homicide under the law.

Contact MayesTelles Today - Available 24/7

Contact MayesTelles PLLC without delay if you have been arrested for murder and are looking for capable and skilled defense. Our legal team is experienced in handling murder cases across the state of Arizona and could relentlessly fight your charges until they are reduced or dismissed. We will not stop defending you until the job is done, so call today to consult with a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer from our firm and start building your defense.

Your case evaluation is absolutely free, so you have nothing to lose. Call our Phoenix murder defense attorneys now!

We've Won Thousands of Cases

  • Client Charged with Trespass & Assault

    Our client, T.C., was charged in Maricopa County Superior Court on July 8, 2015 with 1 count of Criminal Trespass, a class 6 felony, and 1 count Assault, a class 2 Misdemeanor. On September 9, 2015, after an 8-day jury trial, our client was found not guilty on both charges. Location: Maricopa County Superior Court

  • Client Facing Multiple Criminal Charges

    Our client, L.S., was charged on October 20, 2014 in Mesa for an assault, disorderly conduct, and criminal damage. MayesTelles PLLC was able to get those charges dismissed.

  • Client Facing Multiple Domestic Violence Offenses

    Our client, Ms. C., was facing charges of assault / domestic violence (class 1 misdemeanor), disorderly conduct / domestic violence (class 1 misdemeanor), and criminal damage / domestic violence (class 1 misdemeanor). We were able to get our client's case dismissed. Location: Mesa Municipal Court

  • Charged with Assault & Failure to Appear

    Our client, L.S., was charged in Phoenix on December 27, 2014 for assault and failure to appear. After completing diversion, our client's case was dismissed.

  • Domestic Assault & Failure to Appear Charges

    Our client, Ms. C., was facing an assault / domestic violence offense (class 1 misdemeanor) and a failure to appear charge (class 1 misdemeanor). We were able to get our client's case dismissed. Location: Phoenix Municipal Court

  • Client Faced Multiple Abuse Charges

    Our client, E.A., faced two counts of Class 4 felony child abuse and one count of failure to report neglect of a minor (a class 6 felony). We were able to get the case dismissed. Location: Maricopa County Superior court

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