Facing criminal charges involving someone’s death can be a difficult and stressful experience. You’ve likely heard different terms, such as murder, homicide and manslaughter but aren’t sure what they mean.
While they may seem similar, there are some significant differences, and it’s important you understand the distinctions.
Intent is the key factor
The level of responsibility and intent are what differentiate manslaughter from murder.
Murder is a deliberate act with the intent to kill or cause serious bodily harm. Tennessee recognizes two different degrees of murder:
First-degree murder refers to an intentional killing involving premeditation, meaning there was a plan to commit the murder. In Tennessee, first-degree murder charges include killings during a violent felony, such as a robbery, arson, kidnapping or rape. It can also be used in cases of mass murder, which involves the death of three or more people.
Second-degree murder is the intentional killing of another person without premeditation. It also doesn’t recognize that there may be other factors, such as provocation or passion. Second-degree murder charges can also be brought forth if the death happened in conjunction with another felony.
Tennessee also recognizes three other types of homicide:
Voluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of another person. However, the killing was due to intense emotion, such as provocation or passion.
Criminally negligent homicide involves no level of intent. Instead, it is when one person causes the death of another due to the disregard for the victim’s safety and well-being.
Vehicular homicide is killing a person due to the reckless operation of a vehicle or operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Each of the above is considered a different felony level and carries different punishments upon conviction. Working with someone who can help you build a strong defense offers your best chance for a positive outcome.