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First Degree Murder

First Degree Murder

Watch this short video where David Cantor explains First Degree Murder Charges in Arizona:


Among the most serious crimes in Arizona defined in Arizona Revised Statutes §13-1105, is First Degree Murder. A defendant is guilty of this charge under Arizona law if he takes premeditated action that he intends or knows will cause another person to die, including an unborn child. A.R.S. §13-1105(A)(3) also attaches a this charge to intentional killings of police officers in the line of duty.

Additionally, a charge of murder in the first degree will result under A.R.S. §13-1105(A)(2) where a person causes the death of another during the commission of a felony, including kidnapping, terrorism, sexual assault, robbery, arson, child abuse, burglary, and certain drug crimes, among other felonies. If the felony is being committed by a group, the entire group will be charged with murder in the first degree, regardless of which member caused the death. This is known as the “Felony Murder Rule.” The rule may apply to a situation where a getaway driver is charged with First Degree Murder while waiting outside of a bank robbery in which an accomplice kills a bank teller inside. The Felony Murder Rule applies to killings that occur “in the course of and in furtherance of the offense or immediate flight from the offense,” giving prosecutors wide latitude in bringing this charge.

Murder in the first degree is the most serious charge there is, so if you have been charged with this crime, it is vital that you contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. DM Cantor can help you fight these charges, and the firm has a dedicated, experienced staff of lawyers ready to help you. For a free, no obligation consultation, contact DM Cantor via our secure online form or by phone at 602-737-2812.

Helpful Links:

More Information on Second Degree Murder
More Information on Manslaughter

Potential Punishment for 1st Degree Murder

The charge of murder in the first degree comes with serious consequences. Significantly, one of the potential punishments for this charge is the death penalty. For a first degree murder conviction where the date of the murder occurs on or after August 2, 2012, the only possible punishments are the death penalty or natural life in prison.  For a first degree murder conviction where the date of the murder occurs before August 2, 2016, a person may also be sentenced to life imprisonment with no release option until 25 years have been served. Because of the gravity of these sentences, a criminal defense attorney must be skillful and operate strategically to secure the best result. The importance of experience cannot be overstated in murder cases.


Potential Defenses for 1st Degree Murder

While a murder charge is a difficult one to defend, lawyers can use certain defenses to reduce or eliminate charges. Among the most effective defenses is “self-defense”, through which an attorney seeks to establish that the deadly force used by the defendant was necessary to counter the potentially deadly force being used against him. Where the charge comes under the Felony Murder Rule, a defense attorney can also try to reduce or eliminate charges by attacking the underlying felony charge, because then a defendant would not be linked to the killing by an accomplice.

A skilled attorney can also use the defense of “supervening causes” to show that it was not the defendant’s action, but a subsequent and overriding action, that caused the death. For example, a medical error by a surgeon treating an individual wounded by the defendant could be seen as a supervening cause that exonerates the defendant, if the victim would not have died but for that medical error.

In addition to murder-specific defenses, more general criminal law defenses such as Miranda rights violations or denial of the right to counsel can help reduce or eliminate charges. The former may occur where a defendant is coerced or tricked into making a statement, because Arizona requires that incriminating statements be made willingly. The latter defense may apply where a defendant asked for an attorney while being questioned but was not given one and was subjected to further questioning. Defense attorneys may also challenge the sufficiency or accuracy of evidence such as forensic tests, police reports, DNA analysis, fingerprinting, ballistics tests, and other assessments.

David Michael Cantor is a “Death Penalty Qualified” defense attorney, and has first-hand experience tackling the complexities and challenges of a Capital First Degree Murder trial. Cantor has orchestrated defenses relying on expert witnesses, private investigators, accident reconstruction, DNA tests, and other highly technical types of evidence.

Although no attorney can guarantee success, DM Cantor has the highest rating of AV® from Martindale Hubbell®, and Mr. Cantor is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist by the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. Both Mr. Cantor and the rest of the firm are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®, and many of the attorneys on staff are ex-prosecutors with unique insight into the criminal justice system. For a free initial consultation, contact DM Cantor via our secure online form or by phone at 602-737-2812.


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