Facing The Seriousness Of Murder Or Homicide Allegations

Murder & Homicide Offenses

Like all other federal and state jurisdictions, Tennessee classifies offenses based on the gravity of the crime.  Crimes that involve the death of another person are among the most serious in Tennessee. In fact, convictions may result in life sentences or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, and because Tennessee is among the states that allow capital punishment, convictions for certain offenses may result in a death sentence.

Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) § 39-13-201 defines Criminal Homicide as the unlawful killing of another person. There are five distinct offenses identified as criminal homicide:

  • First degree murder
  • Second degree murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Criminally negligent homicide
  • Vehicular homicide

First Degree Murder, as defined by T.C.A. § 39-13-202:

  • The premeditated and intentional killing of another;
  • A killing of another while committing or attempting to commit first degree murder, an act of terrorism, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, kidnapping, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child or aircraft piracy; or
  • A killing of another as the result of the unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb.

First degree murder is a capital crime, for which punishment may include death, imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole, or life imprisonment.

Second Degree Murder, as defined by T.C.A. § 39-13-210:

  • A knowing killing of another; or
  • A killing of another that results from the unlawful distribution of any Schedule I or Schedule II drug, when the drug is the proximate cause of the death of the user.

Second degree murder is a Class A felony, punishable by imprisonment of no less than fifteen (15) years and no more than sixty (60) years, as well as possible monetary fines of up to fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

Voluntary Manslaughter, as defined by T.C.A. § 39-13-211:

  • 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.

Voluntary manslaughter is a Class C felony, punishable by imprisonment of no less than three (3) years and no more than fifteen (15) years, as well as possible monetary fines of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Criminally Negligent Homicide, as defined by T.C.A. § 39-13-212:

  • Criminally negligent conduct that results in another’s death.

Criminally negligent homicide is a Class E felony, punishable by imprisonment of no less than one (1) year and no more than six (6) years, as well as possible monetary fines of up to three thousand dollars ($3,000).

Vehicular Homicide, as defined by T.C.A. § 39-13-213:

  • The reckless killing of another by the operation of an automobile, airplane, motorboat or other motor vehicle, as the proximate result of:
    • Conduct creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person;
    • As the proximate result of conduct constituting the offense of drag racing as prohibited in § 55-10-5;

Both offenses are considered to be Class C felonies, which are punishable by imprisonment of no less than three (3) years and no more than fifteen (15) years, as well as possible monetary fines of up to ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

  • The driver’s intoxication, as set forth in § 55-10-401. For the purposes of this section, "intoxication" includes alcohol intoxication as defined by § 55-10-411(a), drug intoxication, or both;

This offense is considered to be a Class B felony, which is punishable by imprisonment of no less than eight (8) years and no more than thirty (30) years, as well as possible monetary fines of up to twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).

  • The driver’s conduct in a posted construction zone where the person killed was an employee of the department of transportation or a highway construction worker.

This offense is considered to be a Class D felony, which is punishable by imprisonment of no less than two (2) years and no more than twelve (12) years, as well as possible monetary fines of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000).

Additionally, a defendant convicted of any vehicular homicide offense will be prohibited from driving a vehicle in the state of Tennessee for no less than three (3) years and no more than ten (10) years.

Other Homicide Offenses Criminalized by Tennessee State Law Include:

Reckless Homicide (T.C.A. § 39-13-215, Class D Felony)

  • The reckless killing of another

Assisted Suicide (T.C.A. § 39-13-216, Class D Felony)

  • Intentionally providing another person with the means by which such person directly and intentionally brings about such person’s own death; or
  • Intentionally participating in a physical act by which another person directly and intentionally brings about such person’s own death; and
  • Providing the means or participating in a physical act with:
    • Actual knowledge that the other person intends to bring about such person’s own death; and
    • The clear intent that the other person bring about such person’s own death.

Aggravated Vehicular Homicide (T.C.A. § 39-13-218, Class A Felony)

  • A person who has any combination of two (2) or more prior convictions for:
    • Driving under the influence of an intoxicant;
    • Vehicular assault; or
  • A defendant who has one (1) or more prior vehicular homicide convictions, or
  • If, at the time of the offense, the defendant’s blood alcohol level was .20%, or more, and the defendant has one (1) prior conviction for:
    • Driving under the influence of an intoxicant; or
    • Vehicular assault.

If you are under investigation or have been charged with any of the homicide offenses listed above, please contact the Knoxville, Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at The McKellar Law Firm today at 865-566-0125. It is important to obtain legal counsel as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected.

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If you've been accused of homicide or murder, it's important to remember that you always have the right to defend yourself in court. With the help of McKellar & Easter, Attorneys at Law, you can make sure your defense strategy is a strong one and that you are providing yourself with the fullest protection of the law.

Please call 865-566-0125 or fill out this contact form for a free telephone consultation. Appointments are available at any of our three offices: Knoxville, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; and Atlanta, Georgia. We accept credit cards.