DUI & Criminal Defense

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Arizona Vehicular Homicides

Vehicular homicide refers to the category of Arizona crimes where a person was killed during a car accident.  Commonly these kinds of accident involve the use of alcohol, drugs or prescriptions medications.  There are also some vehicular homicide cases where impairment is not a factor.  These case usually involve an allegation of extremely excessive speed violations.

Vehicular Manslaughter

Manslaughter requires the government to prove that the person recklessly caused the death of another person. See § 13-1103(A). These cases are frequently DUI related homicides.

Second-degree murder compared to Manslaughter

The difference between second-degree murder and manslaughter is the degree of “recklessness” that is attributable to a person’s conduct. On one hand, a person commits second-degree murder if “[u]nder circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life, the person recklessly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes the death of another person.”  On the other hand, a person commits manslaughter if they “recklessly caus[es] the death of another person.” The phrase “manifesting extreme indifference to human life” doesn’t add an additional culpable mental state but only requires an extreme form of recklessness that is greater than is required for manslaughter. See State v. Woodall, 155 Ariz. 1, 3, 744 P.2d 732, 734 (App.1987).  Whether or not such an “extreme indifference’ to human life exists is to be determined from all the facts and circumstances surrounding the vehicular homicide.”

Manslaughter Case Law

Unconsciousness is not separate affirmative defense to charge of manslaughter but is subsumed within the concept of “voluntary act,” which State must prove by statute. State v. Lindeken, 165 Ariz. 403, 799 P.2d 23 (App. 1990), review denied.

Negligent Homicide Cases

A person commits negligent homicide in Arizona if:

  1. With criminal negligence
  2. The person causes the death of another person. A.R.S. § 13-1102.

Criminal negligence is, with respect to the circumstances or result of an offense, the failure to “perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the result will occur or that the circumstance exists.

The risk must be of such a 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.” A.R.S. § 13-105(9)(d).

Superseding Causes

An intervening event is a superseding cause constituting a legal excuse only if unforeseeable and, with benefit of hindsight, abnormal or extraordinary.

Arizona Vehicular Homicides

Frequently Asked Questions

Arizona calls the deceased in vehicular crimes a “victim.”  Under Arizona law a victim can be the driver of another car, a passenger in another car, a passenger in your car, a bicycle rider or a pedestrian.

No two states have the exact same vehicular homicide laws.  Arizona does not distinguish vehicular deaths from other types of manslaughter cases. 

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