If you’ve found yourself facing a murder charge, it is important to understand as much as you can about the charge itself. Homicide is defined as “the unlawful killing of another person,” and this criminal law category is separated into five groups in the state of Tennessee:
- First degree murder
- Second degree murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Vehicular homicide
A charge of murder in the first or second degree is one of the most serious offenses against another person, and both charges include different strategies for defense.
Murder in the First Degree
According to the Tennessee Code of Laws, in order for a murder to be in the first degree it must be a premeditated (planned in advance) intent to kill another person. At Patton | Pittman Attorneys at Law, we may go one of several routes during your defense. The first thing we look at is whether or not you are being charged in place of the actual murderer. We can use a mistaken-identity defense in cases where you have an alibi for the approximate time of the crime in question.
There are also many cases where the intentional killing of a person is acceptable, which is called justified homicide. These cases include circumstances of self-defense, protecting another person from an attacker, or killing in the exercise of duty (such as a police officer shooting an armed suspect).
In particular circumstances, we may also consider an insanity defense appropriate. If you were in a mental state incapable of making the deliberate decision to end another person’s life, the insanity defense is an appropriate strategy. This strategy is not flawless, however, and may still lead to a conviction under subdivision (a)(2) or (a)(3) of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202 if intent to commit the crime was still present.
Murder in the Second Degree
Defense for murder in the second degree is very similar to that of the first degree. Mistaken identity is one method of defense, as is self-defense and insanity. Another defense for murder in the second degree is also taken into account, which is your level of intoxication during the time the crime was committed.
Intoxication can include impairment of judgment as a result of alcohol or drugs and can take one of two forms: involuntary or voluntary. If someone decides to go to the local bar and has a few too many drinks, it is considered voluntary intoxication. If that same someone goes to the local bar and accepts a drugged drink from a random individual, the state of inebriation is involuntary. The difficulty lies in proving that the person was unaware that he or she was being drugged.
Make sure you know your rights. Here at Patton and Pittman Attorneys at Law, we have the experience you need to navigate the ins and outs of these defense strategies. Call (931) 361-4477 or contact us online for your free initial consultation.