When it comes to criminal offenses, murder is inarguably among the worst charges someone could face. Murder or homicide allegations mean that the state blames someone for the death of another person.
Not only do murder or homicide charges carry significant social stigma, but these charges can also have life-altering criminal consequences if someone pleads guilty or winds up convicted in court.
If you are in a situation where you had no choice but to engage in an act of physical violence in order to protect yourself or someone else, the idea that you could face incarceration for such an act may terrify you. However, you can potentially use your act of self-defense as a defense against pending murder charges in Tennessee.
Tennessee has strong protections for those who defend themselves
In some states, people must prove that they either tried to get away or had no choice but to use force when they defend themselves, especially if they end up using lethal force. Tennessee does not have a duty to retreat in its self-defense law.
Instead, Tennessee is among the so-called stand-your-ground states that allow people in their own home or vehicle to use physical force up to and including lethal force to defend themselves or others in the situation where they had immediate fear of bodily harm or death.
Provided that you can demonstrate that the circumstances would give a reasonable person cause to fear for their safety or the safety of others, you may be able to convince the judge or a jury that your actions were not criminal because you only wanted to protect yourself or another person.
An affirmative defense is often wise when there is physical evidence
Self-defense claims are one of several different kinds of affirmative defenses that don’t challenge that an individual played a role in certain events but rather that their role was not criminal due to extenuating circumstances.
Currently, many people facing assaults or even homicide charges could assert self-defense as a way to protect themselves from a conviction. In fact, lawmakers have recently introduced a bill that could expand self-defense rights across the state. For now, however, those facing homicide charges may be able to build a defense strategy on the fact that they acted out of a desire to protect themselves or others.