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Understanding your rights when facing a homicide charge

If you have been accused of committing a homicide, you may naturally be fearful of your fate. This includes being afraid of what will happen to your reputation as a result of your homicide charge, as well as fearing the potential loss of your freedom.

Fortunately, just because you face a charge of homicide in Tennessee does not mean you are immediately guilty of committing a crime. Instead, prosecutors must prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction can happen. In addition, not all homicides violate criminal laws.

What is homicide?

A homicide is any type of killing of a human being. Homicides, including manslaughter and murder, often violate laws. However, other types of homicide, such as killing someone in self-defense that is justified, are not crimes.

The differences between manslaughter and murder

Manslaughter refers to killing someone in a manner that is not intentional. The lowest level of manslaughter is called involuntary manslaughter, where you ended up killing someone by being criminally reckless or negligent. A common example of involuntary manslaughter is a drunk driving crash that takes someone's life. If you caused the DUI crash, you were behaving in a manner that was criminally reckless, even though you did not necessarily mean to kill anybody.

Voluntary manslaughter typically means you did not intend to kill someone but ended up doing so in the heat of passion. In other words, you acted impulsively and without prudence due to some type of provocation -- something any reasonable person may do.

Of all of the homicides, first-degree murder is the most serious. It is usually both premeditated and intentional. Premeditation can involve planning the murder for either a long time or a short time. In addition, if you accidentally end up killing someone else besides the person you intended to murder, you can still face a first-degree murder charge.

How to ensure you have the best defense possible

If you are facing a charge of homicide, you have the right to go to trial to aggressively fight the charge. An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure your rights are protected while scrutinizing all evidence that the prosecution plans to present in an effort to find weaknesses in their argument. Your attorney's ultimate goal is to help you to achieve the most personally favorable outcome considering the circumstances surrounding your case.

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Mark Scruggs, Trial Attorney
95 White Bridge Rd. Ste 508
Nashville, TN 37205

Phone: 615-988-4128
Fax: 615-356-6954
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