Maryville Murder and Homicide Defense Attorneys
Tenacious defense for clients in East Tennessee who have been charged with causing a death
The most serious crime you can be charged with is homicide. If you find yourself at the center of a homicide investigation, the district attorney and other government entities will diligently pursue the case to prove that you were the one who ended the life of someone else. Facing such a charge is not the right time to use a lawyer who has never been involved in a trial or has never represented a client facing a felony murder charge in Tennessee.
With decades of experience, the legal team at Shepherd & Long, P.C. has represented clients in Maryville and throughout East Tennessee who have been charged with homicide. We understand how serious a homicide charge is and how it impacts your future. We will aggressively examine your case and provide you with an honest evaluation. Skilled and tenacious, our Maryville criminal defense lawyers fight to protect your rights.
What are Tennessee’s homicide charges?
Homicide is the unlawful killing of another person. Depending on the charges levied, you could be facing up to life in prison without any chance of parole. In Tennessee, every homicide charge is a felony charge:
- First-degree murder. The state of Tennessee will charge you with first-degree murder if you commit premeditated or intentional murder of another person. Should you commit murder during the commission of a felony, you can be charged with felony murder. If convicted, you could be sentenced to death. This is the only capital crime in Tennessee.
- Second-degree murder. The law in Tennessee defines second-degree murder as the knowing killing of someone else. You can be charged with a Class A felony and if convicted, you could face between 15 and 60 years in prison.
- Voluntary manslaughter. Voluntary manslaughter is levied against an offender when he or she killed someone in the heat of passion or because of sufficient provocation. This charge is levied as a Class D felony and comes with a prison sentence between two and 12 years.
- Vehicular homicide. Vehicular homicide does not only involve a motor vehicle. You can be charged with this crime if you kill someone driving a vehicle, an ATV, operating a watercraft, and flying a plane. If you are operating a vehicle in a reckless manner or are drag racing and it kills another person, you will face a Class C felony, which comes with a prison sentence of three to 15 years. If you were drunk at the time of the accident, it is a Class B felony and you can be sentenced to anywhere from eight to 30 years in prison.
- Aggravated vehicular homicide. Aggravated vehicular homicide is levied against you if you have prior drunk driving convictions, have a vehicular assault conviction on your record, or have a combination of the two. This is a Class A felony and comes with a prison sentence ranging from 15 to 60 years.
- Criminally negligent homicide. Tennessee defines this crime as “criminally negligent conduct that results in death.” A Class E felony, this charge has a sentence ranging from one to six years in prison.
- Reckless homicide. Tennessee defines this crime as the reckless killing of another person. A Class E felony, if you are convicted you can face anywhere from one to six years in prison.
These are serious criminal charges. In the best of scenarios, it is one year of your life in prison if you are convicted. In the worst of scenarios, you could receive the death sentence. On top of the sentencing, you face thousands of dollars in fines, the loss of your rights if released from prison, civil lawsuits filed by surviving family members, and your entire life will be different. The best way to minimize the impacts on your life is to speak with an experienced Maryville criminal defense attorney who can build a strong defense to your homicide charges.
Defenses to Tennessee homicide charges
When you work with an East Tennessee homicide defense attorney, the defenses for the charges against you will be much clearer. There are a few options you have when faced with a murder charge:
- Plead your innocence
- Plead insanity
- Lack of intent to kill
- Claim that you acted in self-defense (stand your ground)
Tennessee stand your ground
Tennessee operates with a stand your ground law, which means you are authorized to use deadly force to protect yourself if you are in imminent fear of death or fear serious bodily harm. Unlike other states, Tennessee does not require you to take part in an affirmative duty to retreat before you use deadly force.
The law in Tennessee presumes that you are in imminent fear if you are in your home, in a hotel room you occupy, on your own property, or in a vehicle and someone enters in a felonious manner.
Juvenile murder charges
The state of Tennessee has the longest mandatory minimum sentence in the country for juveniles convicted of murder: 51 years before the chance of parole. The other two sentencing options for first-degree murder are life in prison without the possibility of parole and the death sentence.
How does clemency work in Tennessee?
Clemency, or being granted a pardon, comes from the Office of the Governor of Tennessee. A pardon can only be issued for someone who has been convicted of a crime. The governor takes into account the nature of the crime, how long ago the conviction was issued, if the subject in question has other convictions, and if the subject has shown signs of rehabilitation.
In order to have the Governor consider a pardon, an application must be submitted to the Parole Board before it is forwarded to the Governor. Should you be issued a pardon, you will be able to vote again and hold public office. However, since the conviction was for a violent crime, you still won’t be able to own a firearm and the conviction will not be expunged from your record.
To be eligible for a pardon, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least five years from the end of your sentence
- Must demonstrate “exemplary citizenship” since completion of the sentence
- Show a “compelling reason” for a pardon
- Must provide letters of support to prove your exemplary citizenship and the compelling reason
Build a strong defense to homicide charges with our Maryville defense attorneys
If you have been charged with any of the above homicide crimes, it is vital that you speak to an experienced Maryville murder-homicide attorney from Shepherd & Long P.C. Our decades of experience providing tenacious legal representation for clients in Maryville and throughout East Tennessee should be put to work for you. Call our office at call 865-982-8060 or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation.