Speak Up! - View Question #585
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Question: Are minors punished the same as adults if they commit murder?
Answer: It depends. Arizona Law (ARS §13-501) states that kids over 15 that commit 1st or 2nd degree murder are automatically tried in adult court. If the minor is 14, the county attorney has discretion to charge in adult court. If the minor is younger than 14, the state can still try to charge the minor as an adult, but they must first go through a transfer hearing and it is a judge who finally decides.
There are four basic types of homicide in Arizona:
Negligent homicide (ARS §13-1102);
Manslaughter (ARS §13-1103);
Second degree murder (ARS §13-1104); and
First degree murder (ARS §13-1105).
The circumstances surrounding the homicide and state of mind of the defendant create the distinctions.The most serious offenses are first and second degree murder.
If the minor is young enough and the circumstances warrant it, (there are enough mitigating factors) a minor who remains in juvenile court would have consequences until his/her 18th birthday. Arizona Law (ARS §8-341 - §8-342 - §8-343) lists the consequences which a juvenile court judge can impose.
If the minor is tried and found guilty in adult court, the sentencing statute states the punishment shall be the same as that for an adult (life imprisonment, life without parole, or the death penalty are the usual punishments for first degree murder (ARS §13-703)). However, if the defendant was under the age of 16 when the offense occurred, the death penalty is not available. See Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 US 815 (1988).
The punishment for second degree murder can be found at ARS §13-710. All other homicides' punishments are determined by the sentencing statutes ARS §13-604, ARS §13-701, ARS §13-702, ARS §13-702.1, ARS §13-702.2