Recently, a young girl was convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter in Massachusetts even though she was miles from where the actual death occurred. As most of you have heard and as reported by many news accounts, this young woman was found guilty after it was discovered that she was texting her boyfriend and encouraging him to kill himself. Unfortunately, the boyfriend died of carbon monoxide poisoning in his automobile. His girlfriend, the defendant, did not appear to have committed any physical act beyond texting him and encouraging him to end his life.
Manslaughter in Arizona
Unlike Massachusetts and several other states, Arizona does not distinguish between "Involuntary" and "Voluntary" Manslaughter. Under Arizona law, Manslaughter is defined in A.R.S 13-1103 as:
1. Recklessly causing the death of another person; or
2. Committing second degree murder as prescribed in section 13-1104, subsection A upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion resulting from adequate provocation by the victim; or
3. Intentionally providing the physical means that another person uses to commit suicide, with the knowledge that the person intends to commit suicide; or
4. Committing second degree murder as prescribed in section 13-1104, subsection A, paragraph 3, while being coerced to do so by the use or threatened immediate use of unlawful deadly physical force upon such person or a third person which a reasonable person in his situation would have been unable to resist; or
5. Knowingly or recklessly causing the death of an unborn child by any physical injury to the mother.
Additionally, to be charged with, prosecuted and convicted for a criminal offense, police and prosecutors must show that your actions were "voluntary." Specifically, The minimum requirement for criminal liability is the performance by a person of conduct which includes a voluntary act or the omission to perform a duty imposed by law which the person is physically capable of performing. A "voluntary act" means a bodily movement performed consciously and as a result of effort and determination.
Prosecution for Manslaughter in Arizona:
Under current Arizona Law, and as related to the "Texting Case," prosecution for Manslaughter where another person commits suicide is limited to situations where a persons provides the means or tools which another uses to commit suicide and the arrested person knows of the intended consequences or a defendant acts in a reckless manner and causes the death of another. Consequently, and unlike what occurred in Massachusetts, it is unlikely a prosecution for manslaughter would occur in Arizona where there is nothing more than verbal encouragement to commit suicide.
If you have been charged with a murder, manslaughter any other crime or DUI in Arizona, contact my office at (480) 833-8613 for a free and immediate consultation. I have represented thousands of individuals during the last twenty years who have been charged with offenses ranging from DUI and drug offenses to aggravated assault and homicide. I have also conducted a number of jury trials in the city, justice and superior courts throughout Maricopa County and Final County and am available 24 hours a day by phone.
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