Criminal homicide is a serious crime. If you are convicted, you’re going to go to prison. In Tennessee, there are various charges involving homicide that the accused may face, and some carry stricter penalties than others. We wanted to take a look at some of the more common questions we have heard regarding how Tennessee defines homicide, and how the State punishes those who are convicted of these charges.
Are all homicides murders?
No, they’re not. Homicide is simply defined as the unlawful killing of another individual. In order for a homicide to be classified as murder, there must have been an intent to kill – or, the reasonable assumption that a person’s actions could lead to the death of another human being.
There are various types of homicides, some of which overlap each other in terms of definition. These include murder, manslaughter, war killings, justifiable homicide, capital punishment, and euthanasia. Justifiable homicides, for example, are not classified as murder, even though they involve the taking of a life. Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter are also not considered murder, but various forms of homicide.
What is the difference between 1st and 2nd degree murder?
The most common divisions of the crime referred to as murder involve first-degree and second-degree murder. First-degree murder is the premeditated intentional killing of another person.
Second-degree murder is defined as the knowing killing of another person. This involves malice aforethought and intentionality, but not premeditation or planning that occurs in advance of the act. In Tennessee, second-degree murder may be charged if the death is associated with the possession, production, distribution, and/or use of controlled substances which led to, in whole or in part, the death of a user.
What is vehicular manslaughter?
Under Tennessee law, vehicular manslaughter involves the reckless taking of another person’s life using a motorized vehicle. This act is related to drag racing, drinking, drug use, or the conduct of a driver in a posted construction zone in which the individual killed is a highway construction worker or Department of Transportation employee.
Is killing in self-defense manslaughter?
When an individual exercises his or her right to self-defense or to the defense of another person, under U.S. and Tennessee state law, a noncriminal homicide ruling may apply. If a homicide is carried out in order to prevent a very serious crime such as murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, or rape, it may be considered justified.
Under Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 11, Section 39-11-611, the use of deadly force is justified. The conditions upon which this force may be used include:
- The individual has reason to believe an imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury is present
- The belief of this danger is based upon reasonable arguments
- The danger is either real or honestly believed to be real at the moment in question
If law enforcement has charged you with homicide, you need strong legal representation as soon as possible. At Banks and Jones, our Knoxville homicide attorneys can formulate a careful and intelligent defense strategy against your homicide, murder, or manslaughter charge. To set up a free consultation about your case, call us today at 865.407.2122 or fill out our contact form.