Second Degree Murder vs Voluntary Manslaughter in Arizona


20-year-old David Silva was arrested and charged with murdering 19-year-old Anthony Hernandez at a Halloween party in 2012. Despite LA police sending 3 units to patrol for holiday parties that night, this particular bash turned deadly around 1:30 in the morning.

Witnesses say a fight between Silva and Hernandez, neither of whom had a criminal history or gang ties, broke out in the backyard as the party was coming to an end. In some cases, crimes such as Silva’s are considered voluntary manslaughter, although Silva was later convicted on second-degree murder and sentenced to 16-years-to-life in prison. Let’s talk about the differences between the two charges.

Murder vs. Manslaughter: Differences and Penalties

Second degree murder is if without premeditation, intentionally causing the death of another person, including an unborn child and knowing their conduct will cause death or serious physical injury. A person faces 10 to 25 years in prison, depending on the circumstances.

Voluntary manslaughter is not differentiated from manslaughter in the state of Arizona. It is defined as recklessly causing the death of another person; or committing second degree murder in a sudden quarrel or heat of passion because of adequate provocation by the victim. The sentence that goes along with manslaughter ranges anywhere from 4 to 10 years in prison.

The difference?

A person committing second degree murder, while not premeditated, has full understanding of their actions and kills someone anyway. Manslaughter involves a circumstance that may cause a reasonable person to become emotionally disturbed or considered as a murder fueled by passion or impulse.

While both second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter involve killings that were not planned in advance, the details of the aggression are what differentiate the two.

Charges for Silva

Using the case above as an example, if the fight between Silva and Hernandez broke out spontaneously because of an escalating violent situation, and Silva was charged with second degree murder. However, if the fight had instead been sparked by a personal issue between the two men, then Silva would likely have been charged with manslaughter.

Need Help with Your Case?

If you are facing charges for murder or manslaughter in Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, Glendale, Phoenix or any other city in Arizona, your first step should be to contact a reliable attorney. The criminal defense team at JacksonWhite can help by working to lower your prison sentence. 

Our Criminal Defense Attorneys have the experience and work ethic that you want by your side during one of the most difficult times of your life.

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

Free Criminal Case Review

Call (480) 467-4370  or fill out the form below to get your free consultation and discuss your best legal options.