If you are an avid fan of Law & Order or true crime podcasts, you hear terms thrown around such as first-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. You may even know the difference between first-degree and second-degree murder charges.

However, most television shows avoid discussing reckless homicide and the implications our actions have on our future in Tennessee.

Reckless homicide and involuntary manslaughter

To understand reckless homicide, you need to know the basics of involuntary manslaughter – a situation when a person’s unlawful or reckless actions cause a fatality. With involuntary manslaughter, the death is not planned or intentional; rather it is caused intentionally by the harmful actions of others.

A typical example of involuntary manslaughter is when a driver kills a pedestrian while texting and driving. The driver had no intentions to harm anyone, but their actions lead to the death of the walker.

In Tennessee, there are three categories of involuntary manslaughter: vehicular homicide, criminally negligent homicide and reckless homicide.

Most people do not know the difference between criminally negligent and reckless homicide. The main difference is the behavior surrounding the incident. Reckless homicide often involves reckless behavior that results in someone’s death, while criminal negligence means you were unaware of the risks behind your actions.

Reckless homicide can be as simple as accidentally discharging a firearm in a reckless manner or as complex as a dangerous game of Russian roulette. Both situations may result in murder charges, depending on the surrounding context of the case.

It’s up to the Tennessee courts to decide what charge fits best for the situation because there is not a “one-size-fits-all” for involuntary manslaughter.