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Felony Murder Rule

What is the Felony Murder Rule in Arizona?

The felony murder rule is a legal doctrine that allows a person to be charged with murder if someone dies during the commission of certain felonies, even if the death was unintentional or accidental.

In Arizona, the felony murder rule is codified under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 13-1105. According to this statute, a person can be charged with first-degree murder if they commit or attempt certain dangerous felonies, and someone dies as a result, regardless of whether the death was intended. The dangerous felonies specified in the statute include but are not limited to:

  1. **Sexual conduct with a minor under 15 years of age (ARS § 13-1405).
  2. **Burglary in the first or second degree (ARS § 13-1506, § 13-1507).
  3. **Kidnapping (ARS § 13-1304).
  4. **Robbery (ARS § 13-1902).
  5. **Arson of an occupied structure (ARS § 13-1704).

Penalties to a charge of the Felony Murder Rule

If a person is charged and convicted of first-degree murder under the felony murder rule in Arizona, they may face severe penalties, including life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Defenses to a Felony Murder Rule charge

Defending against charges under the felony murder rule in Arizona can be complex, but there are various defenses that may be raised depending on the circumstances of the case. It's important to consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney to determine the most effective strategy based on the specific facts and legal elements involved. Here are some potential defenses:

  1. Lack of Felony: One of the key elements of the felony murder rule is the commission or attempted commission of a specified felony. If the defense can show that the underlying felony did not occur, it may challenge the application of the felony murder rule.

  2. Intervening Cause: If there was a significant, independent, and unforeseeable intervening cause that led to the death, the defense may argue that the accused should not be held criminally responsible for the death under the felony murder rule.

  3. Lack of Intent: Depending on the circumstances, the defense might argue that the accused did not have the requisite intent for the underlying felony or did not foresee the potential for a death to occur.

  4. Withdrawal from the Felony: If the accused withdrew from the commission of the underlying felony and took substantial steps to prevent it from continuing, some jurisdictions may recognize this as a defense to felony murder.

  5. Proximate Cause Argument: The defense may argue that the accused's actions were not the proximate cause of the death, especially if there were other contributing factors that played a significant role.

  6. Inadequate Evidence: The defense may challenge the sufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution, emphasizing any lack of proof regarding the commission of the underlying felony or the defendant's involvement.

  7. Constitutional Challenges: Depending on the circumstances of the case, the defense may explore constitutional challenges, such as violations of the accused person's rights under the Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendments.

It's important to note that the availability and effectiveness of these defenses may vary, and legal strategies must be tailored to the specific details of each case. If you or someone you know is facing charges under the felony murder rule in Arizona, seeking prompt legal advice and representation is crucial. A qualified criminal defense attorney can assess the facts, determine the most appropriate defenses, and advocate for the best possible outcome.


Contact an Felony Murder Rule Defense Lawyer in Maricopa County

Immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to protect the rights of the accused. Call Brian Di Pietro Law, PLLC today for a free case evaluation about your pending unarmed robbery case in Arizona. Brian Di Pietro is an experienced, tough, aggressive Phoenix criminal defense attorney who will work hard to fight the charges against you to achieve the most favorable outcome for your particular robbery case. Contact now Brian Di Pietro Law, PLLC at 623-242-2655 for a free confidential case evaluation about your robbery charge in Arizona.