Capital Murder Cases: How They are Handled in Tennessee

Murder charges are serious allegations. When convicted of a murder charge, you can be in prison for a long time or even forever. Capital murder is the most serious murder charge that can result in capital punishment or the death penalty. In Tennessee, capital murder cases go through a challenging and lengthy process. If you are facing this type of charge, you must have an experienced criminal defense lawyer Knoxville, TN on your side to protect your rights. 

How Murder Charges are Classified in Tennessee

Murder charges in the state have different classifications. These include the following:

  • First-degree murder. These types of killings are done intentionally. They can be premeditated or can happen after an offender committed a felony crime. 
  • Second degree. This covers killings committed intentionally; however, without any aforethought. 
  • Voluntary manslaughter. You can be charged with these killings when you did them in the heat of sudden passion. 
  • Involuntary manslaughter. These are charges because of accidental killings as a result of reckless or gross negligence. 

A skilled lawyer can educate you about these charges and the possible consequences of a conviction. 

Trials for Capital Murder

During a trial for capital murder, the state should establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Otherwise, you will be found not guilty and your case gets dismissed. This is your attorney’s ultimate goal when they defend your case. 

If your trial leads to a “guilty” conviction, you will be facing sentencing. Rules for sentencing vary by area. But, to try to secure capital punishment for you, the state may present factors such as intense torture or cruelty, murder for profit, victim vulnerability, fatal felonies, the defendant’s criminal history, and multiple killings. Your attorney will ensure this does not happen. 

Capital Felony Murder Charges

Felony murder applies when the killing happens while the offender committed a felony. For instance, when you took part in a bank robbery and a bank staff was killed in the process, you and the rest of those who took part in the robbery may be charged a felony murder. Proving this crime requires the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you took place in the felony that resulted in the killing. Your participation in the felony is enough to convict you for felony murder even if you did not kill the staff yourself. When convicted, you can face a potential capital punishment sentence. Due to the serious penalties of this conviction, you must retain the services of a defense lawyer from a reputable firm.