Charged With Homicide? Don’t Make These Mistakes

Were you charged with homicide? Don’t make these mistakes and ruin your claim. Contact our Phoenix attorneys for a legal consultation today.

Choosing a Homicide Defense Attorney

Charged With Homicide Don't Make These MistakesWith regards to criminal charges being filed against a person, it is inarguable that one of the most serious charges for someone to be charged with is murder. It’s unimaginable. It’s greater than shoplifting, robbery, or most crimes you can think of. When you’re being charged with murder, there are a few rungs to it. There’s negligent homicide, there’s manslaughter, and there’s murder, where you start getting into intent and other things.

It’s important that you have a good attorney that understands how to navigate through the processes of a murder charge, particularly here in Arizona, because there are certain provisions here in Arizona, like the difference between murder two and manslaughter. If certain things are not found, they may not be able to convict you of murder two, but they can convict you of manslaughter if they’re not successful on murder two. The issue of self-defense comes up here. One aspect of Arizona law is that, if you can forge a successful defense of self-defense as a justification to murder, the prosecution now has the burden to prove that you were not acting in self-defense. What’s more, they have to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt, just like they’d have to prove the rest of the case.

You want to be very selective when choosing an attorney to deal with your murder case.
As it relates to capital murder, particularly in Arizona, our criminal code actually limits the number of attorneys that can practice in capital murder cases, where you or your family member can be sentenced to death, so be careful. There are criminal law experts out there. There are some folks that are not experts but that are very handy in dealing with it. Murder cases are very complex because you have to deal with multiple factors, including mental health statuses, family history, how the incident happened, etc, while also dealing with volumes and volumes of evidence to get the best possible outcome for someone that is charged with murder.

Just because a homicide has been committed, doesn’t mean that the person is guilty of murder. You need to talk with a skilled attorney that can sit with you and go over the facts of your case to develop a plan to present an adequate defense for you.

Charged With Murder

If you ever happen to be charged with murder, the first thing you should do is remain quiet. The police are not your friend. They’re agents of the prosecutor. They have no authority at all to lessen charges, to sweet talk the prosecutor. It doesn’t matter what they say to you— stop talking. They are not your friend. They are there to do a job, and that is to write these police reports, forward them to the prosecutor, and at some point, they will be the ones that will be testifying against you. Step number one, if you’re charged with murder or any other crime, stop talking. Be quiet.

The second thing, if you’ve been charged with murder and are are out of custody, contact a lawyer immediately so that at your initial appearance, your arraignment, you show up with competent counsel that’s going to walk through the whole case with you from start to finish so that you can make sure that the theory of the case and the approach to the case remains consistent the whole time. There are so many things that can happen in a murder case, and you want to make sure that you are getting yourself the best possible chance.

Finally, do not reach out to the friends or family of the victim. It doesn’t matter if the victim was a loved one, or your cousin, or baby mom, or anything like that. Stay away from the victims because, again, this is going to weigh into whether you’re going to be released on some type of bail or something. If they feel like the victims are being threatened or there’s a danger to the safety, you’ve got to be careful about all these things because in Arizona you have victims’ rights statutes. They have the right to weigh in on release conditions and other things, so stay away from the victims.

Be quiet. Be quiet. Stop talking. Get yourself a good lawyer. Stay away from the victims, and then address the charges head on. Don’t avoid them. They’re not going to go away. You’re not going to wave a magic wand and they go away. You’re going to have to forge a successful and adequate defense. Contact our office. Contact a competent attorney’s office. They can get ahead of these charges and make sure that they are properly addressed.

Unable to Afford an Attorney

Anytime it comes down to representation, be it a civil case – and particularly a criminal case – the question is always, “Can I afford an attorney?” The real question is whether or not you can afford to not have an attorney. Particularly as it relates to criminal law ( because you could lose your life, liberty or property), there’s a constitutional safeguard in place that’s given to you in the Miranda warnings, which states that if you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you at no cost to you. If you cannot afford an attorney in a criminal matter, a public defender will be appointed to you.

That’s not so in civil matters. Generally, the court’s not going to give you an attorney. In some instances, if there’s a dependency hearing or something like that, the court could appoint counsel in those issues, but generally for a criminal matter, the judge will appoint you a public defender because that’s a constitutional right for you – you get a lawyer to represent you. If it’s ineffective assistance of counsel or you don’t want a lawyer, you can deny that lawyer.

If you want to represent yourself, which is not recommended, you can have advisory counsel while you try the case on your own. There are a number of issues involved, but generally the court’s going to appoint a lawyer to you. The question is do you want a private lawyer or do you want a public defender? If you’re thinking to yourself, “I want a private lawyer,” you’re probably going to be in better hands with a private lawyer. They have more flexibility, they have fewer cases, and they can put more attention and resources into it, but it’s not free.

Find a lawyer that will work with you as far as a payment plan is concerned and get creative about getting funds together. There are a number of things that you can do to gather up finances and work out payment arrangements so that you can get representation that you’re comfortable with. We’ve been behind the prison walls in this state plenty of times, and talked with inmates and folks that have been convicted who say, “Man, if I would’ve had a different lawyer … man, if I would’ve had different counsel, I would’ve fared differently in this.” Don’t be that person. Do what you need to do now.

Again, you can’t afford not to hire the lawyer that you’re comfortable with so that you can get the best outcome. Call our office. We work with criminal clients all the time regarding criminal matters, and we’ll work with you. There are other lawyers that will do it as well, so you call and get a hold of lawyer. Make sure you’re comfortable and confident with the counsel that you have, regardless of what the criminal charges are.


Were you charged with homicide? Don’t make these mistakes and ruin your claim. Contact experienced Phoenix Homicide Defense Attorneys at Smith & Green today for a legal consultation.

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