Tucson DUI Manslaughter Attorney

Pima County Attorneys for DUI Homicide Charges

In Arizona, impaired driving accidents involving alcohol or drugs (illegal or prescription) that result in injuries are treated as serious crimes, such as aggravated assault or endangerment, carrying mandatory prison time. Individuals who are involved in a fatal accident involving alcohol or drugs (illegal or prescription) may be charged with Second Degree Murder. Even if a fatal accident was not your fault, you need to approach your driving under the influence (DUI) arrest in the same way you would a murder charge, because the potential outcome is the same.

The team at Nesci & St. Louis includes attorneys with 80 years of combined experience. James Nesci and Joe St. Louis are both board certified in DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense (as authorized by the American Bar Association). Mr. St. Louis is also certified as a specialist in criminal law by the State Bar of Arizona. Our attorneys have served as lead counsel on numerous homicide cases, including first degree murder cases where the state and federal government were seeking the death penalty. This depth of experience has taught them the skills to strategize at each stage of a DUI homicide case — from seeking the suppression of evidence pre-trial to introducing exculpatory mitigating evidence to the court.

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Arizona Second Degree Murder, Manslaughter & Negligent Homicide Laws

An experienced Tucson DUI homicide attorney can explain to you the charges you may face when you are involved in a fatal or serious DUI accidents. Prosecutors have broad discretion to charge the driver in a fatal accident involving the use of alcohol or drugs with negligent homicide, manslaughter or even second-degree murder.

The courts consider a motor vehicle to be a deadly weapon. While the state must prove the elements of the offense – that the driver was negligent, reckless, or that the actions occurred “under circumstances displaying an extreme indifference to human life” – a driver’s intoxication is not a defense. Relevant DUI, homicide, and assault provisions of the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S) include:

  • A.R.S. § 13-1102 — elements of negligent homicide
  • A.R.S. § 13-1103 — elements of manslaughter
  • A.R.S. § 13-1104 — elements of second degree murder
  • A.R.S. § 13-1201 — elements of endangerment
  • A.R.S. § 13-1203 — elements of assault
  • A.R.S. § 13-1204 — elements of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
  • A.R.S. § 28-1385 — administrative license suspension for driving under the influence or for homicide or assault involving a motor vehicle
  • A.R.S. § 28-668 — testing alcohol concentration in accidents involving death to drivers
  • A.R.S. title 28, chapter 4 — driving under the influence provisions

Because these statutes define a “person” to include an “unborn child,” homicide charges can be filed if a pregnant woman miscarries even if no other person is killed in the accident.

Penalties for DUI Accidents that Result in Death or Injury

Prison terms for DUI fatalities in Arizona typically range from four to 22 years, including dangerous nature convictions for:

  • Negligent Homicide — 4 - 8 years
  • Manslaughter — 7 - 21 years
  • Second Degree Murder — 10 - 22 years

However, companion charges — such as child endangerment or child abuse — may increase the length of imprisonment that the Arizona courts impose for a conviction. An accident with multiple victims may result in multiple assault or homicide charges.

DUI Manslaughter vs. DUI Negligent Homicide in Arizona

Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) 13-1102 defines “negligent homicide” as causing a person’s death (including an unborn child) through criminal negligence. Negligent homicide is a Class 4 felony. The definition of “criminal negligence” in A.R.S. 13-105(10)(d) is "a person that fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation."

By comparison, A.R.S. 13-1103 defines manslaughter as recklessly causing the death of another person, and, as a Class 2 felony, is a more serious offense than negligent homicide. Statute A.R.S. 13-105(10)(c) defines "recklessly" as "with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense, that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard of such risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A person who creates such as risk but who is unaware of such risk solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect to such risk.”

The main difference between “reckless” and “criminally negligent” is the factor of “conscious disregard.” Penalties differ substantially because the manslaughter maximum imprisonment penalty is 21 years, and negligent homicide’s maximum penalty is eight years.

Consult with our defense lawyer in Tucson, AZ for hard-hitting defense against DUI manslaughter and homicide charges. Call Nesci & St. Louis at (520) 999-2441 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.

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