Few crimes are as serious, nor are punished as severely, as the crime of murder in the State of Tennessee. If you have been charged with murder, or you are the loved one of someone who has been accused of murder, you are undoubtedly frightened and anxious about the outcome of your case. The most important question you likely want answered is “What are the possible punishments for murder in Tennessee?” Because there are a number of factors that can affect the potential punishment you will receive if convicted of murder it is always best to consult with an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney; however, it may be helpful to gain a basic understanding of what constitutes murder in Tennessee and what penalties you could face if convicted.
In the State of Tennessee, as is the case in most states, the crime of “murder” can be charged as first degree or second degree murder. When the death of another human being does not amount to first or second degree murder it may also be charged as another criminal offense, such as voluntary manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, or vehicular homicide.
First degree murder is the most serious of the offenses involving the death of another human being. To constitute first degree murder, one of the following must apply:
- A premeditated and intentional killing of another;
- A killing of another committed in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate any first degree murder, 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 committed as the result of the unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb.
Tennessee is a death penalty state, meaning that a defendant who is convicted of first degree murder could be sentenced to death. In the alternative, a person convicted of first degree murder may be punished imprisonment for life with, or without, possibility of parole.
Second degree murder in the State of Tennessee is defined as follows:
- 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 in Tennessee, punishable by 15 to 60 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000.
If you have been charged with the crime of murder, or you are the loved one of someone who has been accused of murder, it is imperative that you consult with the experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorneys at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to discuss possible defenses. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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