What Are The Differences Between Murder and Manslaughter in Tennessee?

Have you been accused of ending another person’s life? If so, please read on, then contact an experienced Memphis violent crime lawyer to learn the differences between murder and manslaughter in Tennessee.

How are murder and manslaughter defined in Tennessee?

When a person kills someone, regardless of intent or other details surrounding the incident, it is generally considered a homicide. In the Volunteer State, murder is when a person knowingly and purposefully kills another person or causes substantial bodily harm that the other person later dies due to the injuries that were inflicted. A defendant may be charged with “felony murder” if another person dies while the defendant was allegedly committing arson, burglary, carjacking, criminal escape, kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, an act of terrorism or other felony offense.

On the other hand, manslaughter typically does not arise out of a person’s intent to cause death, but rather reckless conduct. For this reason, manslaughter is a lesser crime as compared to murder, which is the most serious crime. However, if a person kills another person in the “heat of passion,” that is considered a purposeful homicide resulting from “reasonable provocation.” The alleged provocation must be so egregious that it would cause an “ordinary reasonable person” to commit the type of violence that results in a fatality.

How are the penalties for murder and manslaughter different in Tennessee?

Both of these crimes are serious offenses. That being said, the penalties will vary wildly based on the degree and unique circumstances of your alleged offense. They are as follows:


  • A period of incarceration between two and 30 years
  • A fine of between $5,000 and $25,000


  • Possible life imprisonment without the possibility of parole
  • Possible death penalty

Since the Volunteer State sentences convicts to and carries out the death penalty, you would be well-advised to retain the services of a skilled Memphis criminal defense attorney if you are charged with either crime. Our seasoned legal professional will gather the facts and evidence of your case and develop a tailored strategy to help you avoid decades or even the rest of your life behind bars or being executed by the state of Tennessee, so do not hesitate to give us a call today.

Contact Our Experienced Memphis Firm

No one should ever have to recover from a serious injury or deal with a pressing criminal matter on their own. We pride ourselves in assisting clients facing a wide range of legal issues throughout Memphis, Tennessee, and we are ready to help you, too. If you need assistance with a personal injury, criminal, or business litigation matter, you can turn to us. Contact Ballin, Ballin & Fishman, P.C. today to schedule your free initial consultation with our experienced legal team. 

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