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

Homicide

Tennessee divides murder into five different categories. The most severe penalties will be imposed where the person intentionally or planned to kill another. The law provides for lesser, although still severe, penalties for situations in which the accused did not act intentionally or where the person was sufficiently provoked. If you are charged with one one of the five offenses listed below, it is in your best interest to call the seasoned attorneys with Baker Associates. We have substantial experience litigating murder cases and we will work tirelessly to defend your rights. We have the luxury of being selective when choosing our clients, which means we will give your case the attention it deserves.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

A person will be convicted of criminally negligent homicide, previously involuntary manslaughter, if the prosecution can prove the person’s criminally negligent conduct resulted in the death of another. To be criminally negligent, the person ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk and ignoring that risk constitutes a gross deviation from standard of care. Meaning the action was a far cry from what an ordinary person would do.

This offense is a Class E Felony, which carries a range of 1 to 6 years in jail. Of the homicide offenses, this is the least severe, yet it still carries a hefty prison sentence.

Reckless Homicide

Reckless homicide requires the state to prove the defendant's reckless conduct resulted in the death of another. A person acts recklessly when he or she is aware of a significant and unjustifiable risk and disregards that risk. You will be charged with reckless homicide if you ignore that risk and it results in someone else’s death. If convicted of reckless homicide, you face a Class D Felony and a 12 year prison sentence. If convicted and incarcerated, you must serve 30% of that sentence before you are even eligible for parole.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Even if a person intentionally or knowingly kills another, the charge will be reduced to voluntary manslaughter if the person was provoked into such a state of passion that a reasonable person in that state would act irrationally. Although this is a reduced charge in comparison to first-degree murder, it still carries substantial penalties. A person convicted of voluntary manslaughter faces up to 15 years in jail and a Class C Felony on his or her record. Like reckless homicide, the convicted person must serve 30% of his or her sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

Second Degree Murder

Second Degree Murder is the knowing killing of another. A person acts knowingly when he or she is or should be aware that his or her action is reasonably certain to result in the death of another. This is a Class A Felony, which carries a maximum 25 year sentence and you will be required to serve 100% of that sentence. Persons convicted of Second Degree Murder must serve at least 85% of the prison sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

First Degree and Felony Murder

First degree murder is the most serious homicide offense in Tennessee and it encompasses both premeditated and intentional killing as well as felony murder. The state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused’s actions were premeditated or intentional. The jury will be instructed on certain factors by which they can infer premeditation such as: the procurement of a weapon, the cruelty of the killing; or preparations to conceal the crime, among other factors. Additionally, there is something called “felony murder” where one may be convicted of first degree murder if the killing occurred during the commission of one of the enumerated felonies, examples include, but are not limited to: arson, burglary, rape, and theft. If convicted of first degree murder you face the death penalty, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or life imprisonment. If sentenced to life imprisonment, you must serve a minimum of 51 years before you are eligible for parole.

If you have multiple felony convictions on your record, your sentence will be increased. This applies to all felony offenses except for First Degree Murder, which is an automatic life in prison upon conviction.

It is imperative that you contact an attorney with experience trying murder cases as soon as possible. There are many things that need to be done on the front end, such as gather any video evidence, before it can get deleted from servers. There are motions to file, people to interview, scenes to be reconstructed, alibis to be confirmed, etc. Additionally, there are affirmative defenses, such as self defense, that can be asserted and work on this must begin immediately. Time is of the essence when dealing with serious charges like a homicide.

Contact Baker Associates

If you want proactive, progressive, and professional legal representation then contact the attorneys with Baker Associates today. Our criminal defense team has significant litigation experience and are prepared to take your case to the jury if necessary. We will force the prosecutors to prove each and every element of their case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden imposed on the state in criminal law.

With offices in Sevierville and Nashville, we are ready and eager to serve the people of Tennessee. If charged with homicide or other serious crime, do not hesitate to call your local criminal defense attorneys at Baker Associates.