Murder Defense Lawyers in Lebanon

Tennessee First & Second Degree Murder Laws

The term “homicide” is a legally neutral term that simply means, the killing of a human by another human being. There are multiple subsets of homicide, with a wide range of penalties.

First degree murder:

  • (1) A premeditated and intentional killing of another - To be convicted under this definition of First Degree Murder the prosecution must show that the defendant intended to kill and that the killing was premeditated. These can be tricky terms because they are a lot more nuanced than they might seem. For instance, premeditation does not mean that you took time to think about and plan a murder (although, obviously, it can). Premeditation can happen quickly—it’s the point at which a person had a decision to make, and made the decision to kill.

  • (2) Felony murder - Felony murder in Tennessee is a killing that happens during the commission or attempt of another serious crime. An example of this would be where a bank robber hits and kills a pedestrian while fleeing the scene of the crime. Even though the bank robber didn’t intend to kill the pedestrian, because he was in the process of committing another serious crime, he can be charged with First Degree Murder. Further, if a person dies as a result of aggravated neglect of a vulnerable person, the person who committed the neglect can be charged with First Degree Murder.

  • (3) A killing resulting from the use of a bomb - This is another example of a First Degree Murder charge where direct intent is not taken into account. Here, if a person throws, places, or discharges a bomb, and a death results, that person can be charged with First Degree Murder, even though he may have never even seen the person that died.

Second degree murder is a Class A felony and is punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison:

  • (1) A knowing killing of another - This type of murder occurs when a person kills another but did not premeditate their actions. This is a hot-blooded killing, but not one in which the defendant has been sufficiently provoked (see more on this topic under manslaughter).

  • (2) A killing of another that results from the unlawful distribution of any Schedule I or Schedule II drug, or the unlawful distribution, delivery, or dispensation of fentanyl or carfentanil, when the drug or substance is the proximate cause of the death of the user. - This category in the law is a rather recent development. The aim is to stiffen penalties on drug dealers. However, what this means, in essence, is that if Person A distributes an illegal drug to Person B, who then cuts it with fentanyl or some other dangerous substance, and sells it to Person C who then dies from using it, Person A can be liable for Second Degree Murder.

Call Vasek & Robbins at (615) 488-7949 to schedule a consultation with a member of our firm.

Voluntary Manslaughter

In Tennessee, Voluntary Manslaughter is defined as “the intentional or knowing killing of another in a state of passion produced by adequate provocation sufficient to lead a reasonable person to act in an irrational manner.” This is a Class C felony, punishable by 3 to 15 years in prison.

The classic example of a “state of passion produced by adequate provocation” is a person who kills in a fit of rage after walking in on their spouse in an act of infidelity. These types of cases are highly fact-dependent, and the line can be extremely fine between Voluntary Manslaughter and First or Second Degree Murder.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

This is defined in Tennessee as “criminally negligent conduct that results in death,” and is a Class E felony punishable by 1 to 6 years incarceration. In order to qualify as criminally negligent conduct, the accused either must know, or should know, that the particular type of conduct will imperil the life of another person given the circumstances. An example of this kind of negligent conduct would be showing off to a friend by intentionally shooting a firearm into a crowd of people. Though killing another person might not be the intention, a person’s failure to perceive the risk would subject them to criminal liability in such circumstances.

Reckless Homicide

A Class D felony in Tennessee, Reckless Homicide is, to some degree, open to the discretion of the court. The main element is the reckless killing of a person, other than with a vehicle.

There’s almost nothing scarier than finding yourself or a loved one accused of murder. But in the United States, everyone charged with a crime has important rights. You need someone with experience in your corner who will fight to ensure that your rights are honored.

Not only does Vasek & Robbins have experience trying murder cases, but we work constantly to stay current with the ever-evolving intricacies of the law and modern evidence. This allows our Lebanon murder defense lawyers to vigorously represent your rights using every professional and ethical tool available.

No matter what kind of charges you may be facing, our murder defense attorneys in Lebanon are here to help. Contact us today to get the counsel you deserve.

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