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An overview of second-degree murder charges in Arizona

As was discussed in a previous post, there are numerous situations that might lead to Arizonans being charged with murder. In the state of Arizona, there are two classifications of murder charges – second-degree murder and first-degree murder. While the differences in the definitions of these offenses may seem slight, the disparities in their potential penalties are significant. The first post in this two part series will discuss second-degree murder charges, and the consequences people might face if convicted of this offense.

Under Arizona state law, second-degree murder is defined as intentionally causing the another’s death without premeditation. With few exceptions, this includes causing the death of an unborn child. People may be charged with murder in the second degree if it is believed that they took part in activities, which they knew would cause serious physical injury or death to another person. Additionally, recklessly engaging in conduct that creates a serious risk of death may also constitute second-degree murder in Arizona.

Second-degree murder is considered a class 1 felony offense in the state of Arizona. The penalties that people may face if convicted on this charge vary based on a number of factors. This includes the circumstances leading up to the offense, the age of the alleged victim, person’s age, and his or her prior record.

The Arizona Revised Statutes specify that those who are convicted of second-degree murder in the state should be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison. The state’s sentencing guidelines allow for a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison for those who are convicted of this type of violent crime. The presumptive prison sentence, according to Arizona state law, is 16 years in prison. Such sentences may be lengthened, however, if there were aggravating circumstances. It may also be enhanced if they were previously convicted of second-degree murder, or of certain class 2 or 3 felonies.

Second-degree murder is a serious criminal charge in the state of Arizona, with potentially life-changing penalties. Therefore, those who have been charged with this offense may benefit from obtaining legal representation. An attorney may help them to understand their options, as well as to build a solid criminal defense. 

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