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How Are Different Types of Murder Charges Classified in Tennessee?

 Posted on January 24,2020 in Criminal Defense

Blount County reckless homicide defense attorney

As in every state across the country, murder is considered one of the most serious crimes that a person can commit in Tennessee. When people hear the term murder, they often imagine one person killing the other out of spite or in a violent manner. While this can be the case, there are many other ways that someone can kill another – and the law recognizes this. Tennessee legislation identifies six distinct forms of homicide to show that not all crimes are equal, and neither are their consequences. If you are facing any type of homicide charge, a skilled criminal defense attorney can use these various classifications to your advantage to determine how charges may be reduced or even dismissed altogether. Understanding the various charges is a good first step in formulating a strong defense strategy.

Homicide Classifications in Tennessee

  1. First-Degree Murder: This form of murder refers to the premeditated and intentional killing of another person. In other words, someone must have thought about killing the individual and intentionally done so to have committed first-degree murder. This is the most serious charge that one can receive, resulting in the death penalty or life imprisonment with or without parole.

  2. Second-Degree Murder: In these homicide cases, a person may have knowingly killed another individual, but did not premeditate their actions. This charge may also apply if a person is killed during the distribution of any Schedule I or II drug. Second-degree murder is a Class A felony, meaning those convicted of this crime can serve between 15 and 60 years behind bars.

  3. Voluntary Manslaughter: This charge is for those who have killed someone “in a state of passion” due to provocation or other reasons that would cause them to act irrationally. As a Class C felony, voluntary manslaughter charges can lead to 3 to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

  4. Criminally Negligent Homicide: This offense may apply to any action that results in a person's death. One of the least serious homicide charges that someone can be convicted of, it is considered a Class E felony, meaning that those found guilty can serve up to six years in prison and be required to pay up to $3,000 in fines.

  5. Vehicular Homicide: This criminal offense occurs when someone dies after being hit by a vehicle, plane, or boat. In other words, if you accidentally kill someone while driving your car, you may face vehicular homicide charges. This is considered a Class C felony, and those found guilty will face the same consequence as voluntary manslaughter.

  6. Reckless Homicide: By recklessly killing another person, you have committed reckless homicide. The state statutes do not clearly define what is considered “reckless,” leaving decisions up to the discretion of the court. This is charged as a Class D felony. Those found guilty will serve 2 to 12 years in prison and face fines up to $10,000.

Contact a Knox County Criminal Defense Attorney

Because Tennessee murder charges are some of the most serious criminal offenses in the state, the consequences can be severe. Due to the harsh punishments you may face within the justice system, your criminal defense team is integral to your future if you are accused of murder. Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney, is dedicated to his clients, and he will provide relentless legal representation to help you minimize the consequences you may face. If you are facing any type of homicide charge, contact our Knoxville, TN murder defense lawyer for a free consultation at 865-281-1000.


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