Homicide Representing the Accused for 30 + Years

Phoenix Homicide Attorney

Work with the First Chair Qualified to Defend Capital Cases by the Arizona Supreme Court

When you are facing murder and homicide charges in Arizona, you will need an experienced and skilled defense attorney on your side, as the consequences upon conviction could be as severe as life in prison or the death penalty. Attorney Robert J. McWhirter has over 30 years of legal experience spanning work as the first chair qualified to defend capital cases by the Arizona Supreme Court and a former federal and Maricopa County public defender. Further, Attorney McWhirter’s cases have even been published opinions before, such as a prior appeal redefining the elements of manslaughter.

Don’t risk your future when you’ve been charged with murder or homicide; put a top certified and skilled murder defense lawyer on your side today. Contact the Law Offices of Robert J. McWhirter online or at (480) 690-9097 to get started immediately.


First-Degree Murder

According to ARS 13-1105, a person in Arizona may be charged with first-degree murder if they:

  • cause the death of another person (including an unborn child) through a premeditated and intentional act;
  • commit a certain felony offense and take another person’s life while in the commission of the felony or while fleeing from it (also known as felony-murder); or
  • intentionally cause the death of a law enforcement officer who is in the line of duty.

Note that premeditation is present when a defendant acts with either the intention or the knowledge that they will commit the act of killing, and the defendant has enough time to reflect on this intention or knowledge prior to the killing.

Note that some examples of felonies that can lead to a first-degree murder charge under the felony-murder rule are:

  • child abuse (ARS 13-3623);
  • sexual conduct with a minor (ARS 13-1405);
  • molestation of a child (ARS 13-1410);
  • sexual assault (ARS 13-1406);
  • dangerous drug offenses (ARS 13-3407);
  • marijuana offenses (ARS 13-3405); and
  • narcotics offenses (ARS 13-3408).

A first-degree murder is charged as a Class 1 felony punishable by a life sentence in state prison with no possibility of parole or by the death penalty. As mentioned above, Attorney Robert J. McWhirter is the first chair qualified to defend capital cases by the Arizona Supreme Court, so even if your first-degree murder charges result in a death penalty sentence, Attorney McWhirter has the experience and professional skill to defend your case.

Second-Degree Murder

Second-degree murder, under ARS 13-1104, is when:

  • a person intentionally takes the life of a human being, including the life of an unborn child;
  • a person causes the death of someone else, including an unborn child, while knowing that the conduct would cause death or serious physical injury to that person; or
  • with extreme indifference to human life, a person recklessly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes the death of another person or an unborn child.

Second-degree murder convictions are Class 1 felonies punishable by 10-25 years of prison.

Note that the main distinction between first-degree murder and second-degree murder is premeditation. First-degree murder requires the element of premeditation, and second-degree murder does not.

Manslaughter Laws

Manslaughter is another type of murder addressed under Arizona law. Specifically, ARS 13-1103 states that a person commits manslaughter if they:

  • recklessly cause the death of another person;
  • intentionally or knowingly kill a person upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion;
  • intentionally help a person commit suicide;
  • intentionally or knowingly kill a person while being coerced to do so by the use or threatened use of deadly physical force; or
  • knowingly or recklessly cause the death of an unborn child by any serious physical injury to the mother.

There are two types of manslaughter that may be charged – voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter usually occurs when a person is provoked and acts in a heat of passion (impulse), and involuntary manslaughter is unintentional and may occur during the commission of a felony, for instance.

Note that if the death is the result of a person driving recklessly, the offense may be referred to as vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide.

If convicted of manslaughter, a Class 2 felony, a defendant could face up to 10 years in state prison.

Call the Law Offices of Robert J. McWhirter for Client-Centered Representation

The Law Offices of Robert J. McWhirter is a certified criminal lawyer in Arizona who has experience with manslaughter and death penalty cases. With over 30 years of legal experience, including numerous capital defense cases, Attorney McWhirter will put his technical knowledge and litigation skill on your side. He takes every case personally, as well as keeps his case loads intentionally low so as to provide clients the individualized attention they deserve. 

For professional and client-centered representation in the face of seriously consequential charges, contact the Law Offices of Robert J. McWhirter today. Call (480) 690-9097 or contact our firm online.

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Why Choose Attorney Robert McWhirter?

Attorney Robert McWhirter's highly regarded reputation comes from his proven success handling all aspects of criminal defense in State and Federal courts.
  1. Over 30 Years of Legal Experience
  2. Personal, One-on-One Attention
  3. Certified Specialist in Criminal Law
  4. Former Federal Public Defender
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