TACDL
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Tennessee Bar Association
National College of DUI Defense
iapp
DUI Defense Lawyers Association

16-Year-Old Arrested for Allegedly Stabbing Mother's Boyfriend

Nashville’s News Channel 4 released a story regarding a 16-year-old boy who is facing a criminal homicide charge after allegedly stabbing his mother’s boyfriend to death. According to the story, the mother’s 43-year-old boyfriend was asleep at the mother’s home when he suffered several stab wounds and subsequently passed away at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Visit wsmv.com for the full story.

Criminal homicide is used interchangeably with murder; however, it is a broad term that encompasses all of the different types unlawful killing of another person. In Tennessee there are several categories: first degree murder, second degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, or vehicular homicide. The difference between each category is the mens rea or intent.

The officers will charge a defendant with general criminal homicide and a grand jury will subsequently indict the defendant with the more specific charge. The grand jury will hear all the available evidence and determine whether there is enough to meet the requisite mental state set forth by the specific homicide statute. For example, if the grand jury determines there is enough evidence that a jury could find the murder was premeditated, the defendant will be indicted for first degree murder.

Another issue is whether the defendant, a minor, will be transferred to criminal court from juvenile court. If the minor’s case remains in juvenile court, Tennessee law allows a juvenile court to use discretion in choosing an appropriate method of adjudication that is best for the child’s future and well-being. Under T.C.A. § 37-1-131, the court may elect to change the child’s educational assignment, order community service, order the child to complete inpatient mental health treatment, or even change the child’s permanent guardian, among other options. However, if a minor’s alleged crime would constitute a felony if committed by an adult, the child may be committed to an institution, camp, or facility for delinquent children. The discretion of the court is usually guided by the juvenile’s previous criminal convictions and the severity of the charge at issue. For a criminal homicide charge, the court will likely consider more serious measures to ensure the child’s rehabilitation as well as prevent further harm to the child and others. Alternatively, the child may be transferred to criminal court and tried as an adult and sentenced as such.

There is a fine line between serving the interests of retribution versus rehabilitation when working with juvenile defendants. It is the defense lawyer’s duty ensure the court considers the child’s future and well-being. The focus is on preventing future criminal behavior as the minor enters adulthood.

This requires a sophisticated legal defense and the experienced attorneys at Baker Associates will provide vigorous protection for minors who are facing criminal charges.