In Arizona, there are four classifications of homicide: first degree murder, second degree murder, negligent homicide and manslaughter.

The definitions and penalties for manslaughter are outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1103. There are five situations of homicide that may be classified as manslaughter.

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When Manslaughter is Committed in Arizona

Manslaughter in Arizona is caused when a person:

Causes the death of another through recklessness. This definition is broad and encompassing, and for many manslaughter charges, this is the definition that classifies an act as manslaughter.

Commits second degree murder as a crime of passion. This means that the crime was not premeditated, but is instead the result of “sudden quarrel or heat of passion.” The definition of second degree murder is outlined in A.R.S. 13-1104.

Deliberately assists in the suicide of another person. In most states, including Arizona, assisted suicide is illegal, even if performed by medically trained and licensed professionals. In Arizona, assisting in a suicide, regardless of medical training, is considered manslaughter.

Commits second degree murder under coercion. A.R.S. 13-1103 describes this as acting under the “use or threatened immediate use of unlawful deadly physical force” when unable to do otherwise.

Causes the death of an unborn child by injuring the mother. There are several important exceptions to this, and protects:

  • Those who performed authorized abortions
  • Those who provided medical services on the mother or child
  • The mother of the unborn child

In these situations, the law prevents the charge of homicide because of the mother has either consented to medical services or has herself performed the act.

Manslaughter Penalties in Arizona

A.R.S. 13-1103 states that manslaughter is a class 2 felony. There are many factors that affect the sentencing of a manslaughter conviction, including prior felonies, and whether or not the manslaughter charge is considered a dangerous offense, which occurs if a deadly weapon was used during the incident.

A.R.S. 13-702(D) states the following prison sentences for class 2 felonies if they are not considered dangerous offenses and the offender has no previous felony convictions:

  • Mitigated sentence: 3 years
  • Minimum sentence: 4 years
  • Presumptive sentence: 5 years
  • Maximum sentence: 10 years
  • Aggravated sentence: 12.5 years

For offenders who have prior felonies, or if it’s ruled that the manslaughter was a dangerous offense, then the sentencing can go well beyond 12.5 years in prison. A manslaughter sentence can also include probation, jail time and/or fines and surcharges.

Defending Against Manslaughter Charges

At JacksonWhite Law, we understand the sensitivity of cases involving manslaughter, and take every effort to ensure an effective legal defense for our clients. If you’ve been charged with manslaughter, contact our office today to discuss your case for free with our Mesa defense lawyers.

Our team has helped hundreds of clients throughout the Phoenix metro area, and when you need assistance, we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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