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In some situations, manslaughter, which involves two categories of voluntary and involuntary, may be a more appropriate criminal charge than murder. Voluntary manslaughter is similar to murder in that it occurs when a person intentionally kills another. However, whereas murder involves intent and premeditation, voluntary manslaughter does not involve premeditation and instead involves provocation. That is, a person commits voluntary manslaughter when they kill another person in a sudden passion or anger without time to cool off before the killing.
Voluntary manslaughter is a Class C felony punishable by 3-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Note that if the defendant is not found guilty, it is possible for the alleged victim’s family to bring forward a civil lawsuit for wrongful death.
Involuntary manslaughter is a bit more nuanced and primarily involves the element of recklessness or negligence. Involuntary manslaughter is categorized into 3 types of offenses:
- Vehicular homicide – recklessly killing another while driving a car, plane, boat, or other vehicle, and the defendant’s actions created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury, the defendant was illegally drag racing, or the defendant was intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
- Reckless homicide – recklessly killing a person other than with the use of a vehicle
- Criminally negligent homicide – causing a death due to criminally negligent conduct
Vehicular homicide is typically a Class C felony punishable by 3-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, but if it involves drinking and driving it becomes a Class B felony punishable by 8-30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. However, the presence of aggravating factors (e.g., the defendant had 2 or more prior DUI convictions, the driver had a blood alcohol concentration of .20 or more) could increase the charge to a Class A felony.
Reckless homicide is a Class D felony punishable by 2-12 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines, and criminally negligent homicide is a Class E felony punishable by 1-6 years in prison and up to $3,000 in fines.
If you have been accused of murder in Nashville or the surrounding Davidson County area, contact Stacey and Ballew to discuss your defense options today. Murder is a complex criminal charge, and the consequences depend largely on your circumstances. Do you have prior convictions? Did the offense involve driving? Our firm aims to provide personalized legal service so we can strategize a defense based on your unique situation. How you frame your defense will determine the outcome of your case, so it is critical that you work with an experienced defense attorney.
First and Second Degree Murder
First degree murder is the most serious homicide charge in Tennessee. State law defines first degree murder as one of the following:
- Premeditated and intentional killing
- A killing while committing or attempting to commit a serious felony (arson, robbery, burglary, theft, etc.)
- A killing committed with a bomb (intent to explode the bomb is required for a conviction)
Second degree murder is less severe than first degree murder but still a serious crime. Generally, second degree murder is one of the following:
- Knowingly killing another
- Killing another caused by the unlawful sale of drugs
First degree murder is punishable in Tennessee by the death penalty or life imprisonment, and second degree murder is a Class A felony punishable by 15-60 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.
Contact Stacey and Ballew online for more information. Let’s get you out of your legal mess ASAP.