Skilled Lebanon Criminal Homicide Defense Lawyers
Strategic defense for clients accused of murder or manslaughter in Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Cookeville, and throughout Tennessee
Facing any criminal charge can be frightening, but facing a murder charge is, without a doubt, terrifying. Every single criminal homicide charge, except for first-degree murder, is a felony offense, which means a conviction guarantees not only prison time, but also thousands of dollars in fines. You will lose your job. You may lose your family and your home. You could lose your right to vote, or carry a firearm.
We want to impress on you the seriousness of these charges, but you should also know that you will not face them alone. The criminal defense attorneys at Lowery, Lowery & Cherry, PLLC, has protected the rights of those accused of murder and manslaughter for years. We have handled some of the most high-profile cases in the state. When you are looking at a lifetime of incarceration, our Lebanon homicide defense lawyers have the resources, experience, and skills you need on your side to build a strategic defense.
What is criminal homicide?
Under Tennessee criminal statute, an individual who takes the life of another person can be charged with criminal homicide. These charges fall primarily into five categories:
- First-degree murder
- Second-degree murder
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Criminally negligent homicide
- Vehicular homicide
Each one of these charges can be enhanced. For example, if you are drunk at the time you are accused of vehicular homicide, you may face additional penalties. There are also degrees of these categories: “criminally negligent homicide” is a different charge than “reckless homicide.” What you are charged with is up to the prosecutor – the district attorney, or DA – who will base their decision on the evidence collected by law enforcement.
What is first-degree murder?
The state of Tennessee defines first-degree murder as:
(1) A premeditated and intentional killing of another;
(2) A killing of another committed in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate any first-degree murder, act of terrorism, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, kidnapping, physical abuse, aggravated neglect of an elderly or vulnerable adult, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child or aircraft piracy; or
(3) A killing of another committed as the result of the unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb.
First-degree murder is not a felony offense; it is a capital offense, and as such, there are some differences when it comes to sentencing. For example, you may be able to waive your right to a jury trial, and have your case heard and sentenced by a judge. The sentencing will not be handed down on the same day of the verdict, either; you will be sentenced at a later date.
Of all the criminal homicide charges you can face, first-degree murder is the most serious. It is the only crime in Tennessee for which you can be put to death. If you do not face a death penalty trial, but are convicted of first-degree murder, you can be sentenced to life in prison, with or without the possibility of parole. There are exceptions for defendants who are intellectually disabled. Our Lebanon homicide defense attorneys can answer your questions about these complicated cases.
Understanding homicide charges in Tennessee
Criminal homicide charges are felony offenses, which means multiple years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines upon conviction. Here are the other charges you could face:
- Second-degree murder. The knowing killing of another person, including through repeated acts of bodily injury or via drug distribution. This is a Class A felony.
- Voluntary manslaughter. A “crime of passion” homicide charge. This is a Class C felony.
- Criminally negligent homicide. Wherein a person’s behavior is deemed criminally negligent, and that negligence leads to a death, even if it is unintended. This is a Class E felony.
- Vehicular homicide. The reckless killing of another person via motor vehicle (including planes or helicopters, and so forth). Depending on the exact circumstances of your case, you can be charged with a Class B, Class C or Class D felony.
- Aggravated vehicular homicide. The killing of another person while you were under the influence of alcohol (BAC of .20), where you were engaged in an act of vehicular assault, or where you have been convicted of vehicular homicide before. This is a Class A felony.
- Reckless homicide. The reckless killing of another person. This is a Class D felony.
- Assisted suicide. Helping another person kill him or herself, either directly or indirectly. This is a Class D felony.
In Tennessee, “another person” can include a child in utero. Therefore, if you are charged with killing a pregnant woman, you may also be charged with killing her unborn child.
A homicide conviction, regardless of the specific charge can, and will, change everything. You need a criminal defense law firm that has the resources to build a successful case, and the skill and experience to handle it. Lowery, Lowery & Cherry has all three. We know what you are up against, and we know what to do.
How does sentencing work in a Tennessee homicide trial?
When you are being tried for first-degree murder, whether you are facing a death penalty trial or not, both the prosecutor and your homicide defense attorney will have an opportunity to give opening statements, present evidence, and call people to testify. This is important, because more and more judges have started to allow for excessive use of victim testimony in sentencing.
Obviously, a person who has been killed cannot testify – but their parents, friends, family members, co-workers, etc. can be allowed to testify. Allowing all of these people to speak on behalf of the deceased, or to speak to the effects of that death on their lives, is legal – but it is also a form of emotional manipulation on the part of the prosecution. The recent case against Larry Nassar, the disgraced Olympic gymnastics coach convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault, shows just how drawn-out this process can be.
Part of our role, as defense attorneys, is to ensure that this type of display does not take place, while still respecting the rule of law. Our job is to ensure that you are given a fair and just trial – and that this follows into sentencing, as well.
If the circumstances are such that the charges against you cannot be dropped or lessened, and if you are not acquitted of the crime, we immediately begin to work on your appeal. If you are already serving your sentence when you contact us, but wish to appeal the decision, we can represent you as well.
Experienced Lebanon homicide defense lawyers protect your future
No charges are more serious than homicide charges. At Lowery, Lowery & Cherry, PLLC, we offer aggressive defense strategies designed to protect your freedom and your family. We serve clients in Nashville, Mt. Juliet, Lebanon, Cookeville, or elsewhere in Tennessee. To set up a consultation, call 615-454-9404 or fill out our contact form. We offer in-custody visits throughout Tennessee.