What Are Some Effective Defense Strategies in Homicide Cases?

lawyer and client talking about defense options

Any time someone contributes to the unnatural death of a person, they may be committing the crime of homicide. Homicide is the killing of one person by another and is considered the most serious type of crime a person can commit. If you are arrested and charged with any type of homicide, you will want to work with a lawyer to formulate a solid defense. Reach out to a Memphis violent crime lawyer to begin discussing the details of your case today.

What Types of Homicide Exist in Tennessee?

While most states recognize three types of homicide (voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and murder) Tennessee state law generally recognizes six main categories of homicide. The following are those categories and their definition under Tennessee law.

  1. First-degree murder: The most serious category of homicide, first-degree murder can be considered the intentional and premeditated killing of a person, the killing of a person in conjunction with another felony crime, or the killing of a person through the unlawful use of a bomb or other destructive device.
  2. Second-degree murder: This is defined as knowingly killing a person, or killing a person from the unlawful distribution of a Schedule I or II drug including fentanyl and carfentanil when the drug is the main cause of death.
  3. Voluntary manslaughter: Voluntary manslaughter is defined by Tennessee law as the intentional or knowing killing of a person while in a state of heightened emotion or passion due to some sort of serious provocation.
  4. Criminally negligent homicide: This form of homicide involves a substantial, unjustifiable risk that one takes that causes the death of another.
  5. Vehicular homicide: Vehicular homicide occurs when someone recklessly kills a person through the operation of a motor vehicle. This can include driving while intoxicated, drag racing, reckless conduct in a construction zone, or any conduct that creates a significant risk of harm.
  6. Reckless homicide: Reckless homicide is the careless killing of a person through negligent or reckless actions.

What Penalties Will I Be Given if Convicted?

Each category of homicide will be charged differently and convictions will be accompanied by various penalties. The following are the degrees of each crime and their standard associated penalties.

First-degree murder:

  • Class A felony
  • Imprisonment for life with or without parole OR
  • Capital punishment (death penalty)

Second-degree murder:

  • Class A felony
  • Imprisonment of 15 to 60 years

Voluntary manslaughter:

  • Class C felony
  • Imprisonment of 3 to 15 years

Criminally negligent homicide:

  • Class E felony
  • Imprisonment of 1 to 6 years

Vehicular homicide:

  • Class B or Class C felony
  • Imprisonment of 8 to 30 years (Class B)
  • Imprisonment of 3 to 15 years (Class C)

Reckless homicide:

  • Class D felony
  • Imprisonment of 2 to 12 years

What Defense Can I Use During My Homicide Case?

A homicide case will be taken very seriously because of the violent and tragic nature of the crime. This is why it is crucial that you obtain the services of a skilled lawyer and work with them to formulate an effective plan of defense. The following are some defenses that may benefit your case in Tennessee.

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of another person
  • Defense of property
  • Mistaken identity/innocence
  • Intoxication
  • Insanity
  • Duress
  • Entrapment
  • Insufficient evidence