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What’s the difference in Tennessee between murder and manslaughter?

On Behalf of | Sep 23, 2021 | Violent Crimes

Criminal offenses related to the death of a human being are among the most serious charges. How does Tennessee differentiate between manslaughter and murder?

Murder involves intent

Although the consequences of both murder and manslaughter are the death of someone, murder requires that someone intentionally caused the death. Murder comes in multiple categories, including first-degree murder, which involves premeditation or planning.

For Tennessee prosecutors to convict someone of murder, they not only have to show that someone caused the death of another individual but also that they intended to do so. The exception to that rule may be second-degree murder charges, which could also involve a death due to the sale of illegal drugs.

Manslaughter scenarios can involve accidents

Like murder, manslaughter comes in multiple definitions. All of them involve the unintentional or unplanned death of another person. Causing a fatal car crash due to irresponsible behavior might be involuntary manslaughter because there was not intent to harm the other person.

Some forms of manslaughter are more serious than others. Voluntary manslaughter is the charge that is closest in nature to a murder offense. Someone accused of voluntary manslaughter will not have accidentally or unintentionally caused the death of another person. The circumstances of their offense could also lead to charges of murder. However, a moment of extreme passion or emotional intensity may have resulted in a temporary loss of rational thinking. Such circumstances, sometimes called crimes of passion, may lead to voluntary manslaughter charges rather than murder charges.

Anyone implicated in the death of another person should learn about the charges against them and the legal options for a criminal defense. Defeating murder or manslaughter charges requires support and strategy.


State Bar of Georgia
TBA | Tennessee Bar Association
CBA | Chattanooga Bar Association

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