What types of criminal homicide are recognized in Tennessee?
Criminal homicide is defined as the unlawful killing of one person by another. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's “Crime in Tennessee 2012” report indicates that the homicide rate in Tennessee has steadily increased over the past two years.
Tennessee law recognizes seven forms of criminal homicide:
- First-degree murder
- Second-degree murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Vehicular homicide
- Reckless homicide
- Assisted suicide
What are the major differences between the different types of criminal homicide?
Understanding the key differences between first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent and reckless homicide and the potential sentences for each charge is essential to determining the possible outcome of your criminal homicide case.
First-degree murder. Defined as the premeditated, intentional killing of another person, killing someone while committing another dangerous felony, or killing someone as a result of placing or setting off a bomb or other destructive device. First-degree murder is a felony. Possible sentences are:
- Life in prison without the possibility of parole
- Life in prison with the possibility of parole
- Second-degree murder. Defined as knowingly killing someone, or killing someone because of the unlawful distribution of certain illicit drugs, if the drugs are the proximate cause the death. Second-degree murder is a Class A Felony, punishable by a minimum of 15 years in prison.
- Voluntary manslaughter. Defined as intentionally or knowingly killing another person while in a state of passion. There must be adequate provocation sufficient to lead a reasonable person to act in an irrational manner. Voluntary manslaughter is a Class D Felony, punishable by a minimum of four years in prison.
- Criminally negligent homicide. Defined as criminally negligent conduct that results in death. Criminally negligent homicide is a Class E Felony, punishable by a minimum of two years in prison.
- Vehicular homicide. Defined as recklessly killing someone while operating an automobile, airplane, motorboat or other motor vehicle, if the driver engaged in risky conduct, was intoxicated or racing. Vehicular homicide is also charged when a driver kills an employee of the department of transportation or a highway construction worker while driving dangerously in a construction zone. Vehicular homicide may be a Class B, C or D felony depending on the facts of the case. The possible sentence includes prison time and prohibition from driving a vehicle in Tennessee for three to 10 years.
- Reckless homicide. Defined as the reckless killing of another person. Reckless conduct occurs when harm is not intended, but it is foreseeable that harm could occur from his or her conduct. Reckless homicide is a Class D Felony, punishable by a minimum of four years in prison.
- Assisted suicide. Defined as intentionally providing another person with the means to bring about their own death, intentionally participating in an act that directly and intentionally brings about someone's death, or having knowledge and intention that another person will bring about his or her own death. Assisted suicide is a Class D felony, punishable by a minimum of four years in prison.
The criminal defense lawyers at Mitchell & Mitchell have the experience it takes to assist you with gathering relevant evidence, determining how the court will likely handle your case, and pursuing the least severe outcome possible.
Let our homicide defense lawyers in Murfreesboro explain your legal options by scheduling a free, no-obligation consultation today
Call us at 615-896-4211 or submit a contact form to set up your free consultation. We proudly serve those accused of crimes across central Tennessee, including Rutherford and Cannon counties. We offer flexible hours and affordable payment options. Weekend and evening appointments are available. Our staff speaks both English and Spanish.