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Crime of Passion Law Tennessee


Voluntary manslaughter is quite similar to murder and takes place if a person takes the life someone else intentionally. At the same time, it is also distinct from committing a murder because the offender committed the offense out of sudden anger or passion before they got time to regain their composure. Thus, to realize how these two offenses are distinct from one another, they can be regarded as “heat-of-the-moment” manslaughter or crime of passion versus “cold-blooded murder.”

What does crime of passion mean?

According to the crime of passion law Tennessee, the intentional killing of a person is forbidden when the offender does so in the heat of the moment because of sufficient provocation, which is adequate for leading a reasonable individual to behave in an irrational manner.

In case the circumstances or the person does not cause adequate provocation or emotional excitement to the offender, the law considers the offense as a murder. In case the offender did adequate time for calming down or cooling off before taking the person’s life, it is also regarded as murder according to the crime of passion law in Tennessee.

Tennessee Crime of Passion Law

Examples of voluntary manslaughter

In Tennessee, there are many such instances where voluntary manslaughter can be apter as compared to a homicide at a higher level like second-degree murder or first-degree murder.


According to the state’s crime of passion law, voluntary manslaughter commonly occurs if the individual acts in self-defense. He/she overreacts and then kills the attacker. There are several such domestic violence scenarios where the sufferer can take the life of his/her abuser. While technically speaking, the victim committed the offense with the intention to kill; the law will consider it an act of self-defense while they were in a state of the “heat of passion”. In such cases, the court can declare the offender to have committed voluntary manslaughter rather than murder.


A second common instance is when an individual discovers that his/her spouse is having sex with another person and is immensely shocked. When at such a moment, the person grabs a handgun and shoots them both; the court can also declare the act as voluntary manslaughter. However, in case of individual leaves in haste, consumes alcohol all night, and finds the lover of their spouse all alone at the house and shoots him/her, the court may feel that the offender had enough time to get back his/her calm. In such a scenario, the charge would be murder instead of voluntary manslaughter.

Crime of Passion Law Tennessee

The state of Tennessee considers voluntary manslaughter as a less severe criminal offense in comparison to 1st- and 2nd-degree murder. It is so because, in order to convict the accused of voluntary manslaughter, there should not be any kind of deliberation or element of premeditation.

While voluntary manslaughter is a lesser offense, there can be enormous punishments attached to it if a person is convicted. The state considers voluntary manslaughter as a felony of type Class C. The convicted can be punished with a maximum fine of 10,000 USD and a prison term between 3 and 15 years.

Thus, to sum up, here is what constitutes to what is a crime of passion law is all about in the state:

  1. The accused had killed the victim unlawfully; and
  2. The defendant did so intentionally and was aware that such a violent act would or could cause the death of the victim; and
  3. Such a killing took place in the passion of the moment.

Thus, the state considers voluntary manslaughter as an immensely severe criminal offense. In case a person has been slapped with the charges of voluntary manslaughter, they should meet with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to fight for their rights in the court.

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