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Arizona Second-Degree Murder Law

When a person kills someone, regardless of intent or other details surrounding the incident, it is generally called a homicide. In Arizona, a person commits second-degree murder when he or she intentionally kills another person, but does so without any premeditation. Often times this type of crime is charged in connection with a DUI-related death.

Second-Degree Murder and Premeditation

Basically, this is a killing that happens in the spur of the moment. If a defendant is charged with second-degree murder the prosecution does not have to prove that he or she premeditated or, in other words, had the opportunity to reflect on their actions prior to causing the victim's death. Nevertheless, the prosecution may have to prove that the defendant acted either intentionally or knowingly.

How Is Second-Degree Murder Different Than First-Degree Murder?

First-degree murder is generally when a person knowingly and purposefully kills another person or causes substantial bodily harm that the person dies due to the injuries that were inflicted.

Although less severe than the penalties for first-degree murder, a conviction for second-degree murder in Arizona carries with it a mandatory prison sentence in the Arizona Department of Corrections for a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 22 years.

How Is Second-Degree Murder Different Than Manslaughter?

Second-degree murder is different than manslaughter however because manslaughter is a spur of the moment killing that happens while the defendant is under an intense heat of passion. In second-degree murder, the defendant is under no such influence.

The following table highlights the main provisions of Arizona second-degree laws.

Code Sections


What is Prohibited

1) Intentionally causing the death of another person;

2) knowing that his conduct will cause the death or serious physical injury

3) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, a person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes the death of another person.




Ten (10) years minimum in prison, sixteen (16) years presumptive in prison, and twenty-two (22) years maximum in prison

Civil Case

Possible Wrongful Death lawsuit

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an Arizona criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Arizona Statutes

Arizona Second Degree Murder Laws: Related Resources

Get Professional Legal Help With Your Criminal Charges

It should go without saying that if you do find yourself facing a second-degree murder charge in Arizona, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney for assistance. A skilled Arizona homicide attorney will closely scrutinize the evidence against you and help you identify weaknesses in the State's case, as well as any defenses that may be available to you. Find an experienced criminal defense lawyer near you today.

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