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What is The Law on Manslaughter in Tennessee and What are The Punishments for it?

The law on manslaughter in the state of Tennessee can vary depending upon two things; Whether the crime committed was Voluntary Manslaughter or Involuntary Manslaughter. Let’s take a look at the details regarding both these seriously punishable offenses.

Voluntary Manslaughter in Tennessee

Voluntary Manslaughter is largely similar to murder. An offense is assigned the status “Voluntary Manslaughter” when a person intentionally kills another person. The reason it is considered similar to murder and not murder is that the crime committed was due to an emotional outburst, possibly passion, anger, or frustration; thus, causing a rational person to behave irrationally within a heated moment, leading to Voluntary Manslaughter.

Tennessee Manslaughter Law

A couple of examples for Voluntary Manslaughter could be;

Infidelity – if a person finds their spouse or lover in bed with another, and in the heat of a moment manages to kill either or both of them, the court could find the defendant guilty of Voluntary Manslaughter and not charge him/her with a charge of second-degree murder.

Self-defense – many times a person who acts out in self-defense ends up killing their attacker or abuser, in this case, the court often charges the defendant with a verdict of Voluntary Manslaughter.

As Voluntary Manslaughter is a class C felony in Tennessee and legally punishable, the punishment for committing the crime includes a prison sentencing between 3-15 years, and also a fine up to $10,000.

Manslaughter Law Tennessee

Involuntary Manslaughter

In Tennessee, an offense is considered “Involuntary Manslaughter” when a man or woman causes the death of another human being, due to their negligent, unlawful, or careless actions. It is the unnecessary disregard for safety or risk of fatal consequence, rather than the intent to kill another which makes the act of Involuntary Manslaughter a criminal offense.

Involuntary Manslaughter is divided into three categories here in the state of Tennessee, these three categories include:

  • Vehicular Homicide – It is the reckless, or careless killing of a person whilst controlling a vehicle of any kind such as a car, bike, plane, boat, or any other vehicle. To be considered vehicular Homicide, the defendant must have created significant risk or cause for death with their reckless actions or flaw in judgment, such as participating in drag racing, driving while intoxicated, or under the influence of other drugs. Drinking and driving vehicular homicide is considered a class B felony in the state of Tennessee, another Vehicular Homicide is a Class C felony. Drivers convicted under Vehicular homicide lose their driving rights or privileges for a period between 3-15 years depending on the details of the crime.
  • Criminally Negligent Homicide – this is causing the death of another person due to criminally negligent actions. Actions such as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or operating heavy machinery under the same circumstances that could lead to fatal consequences. Criminally negligent homicide is considered a Class E felony in Tennessee.
  • Reckless Homicide – is causing the death of someone due to one’s very own reckless or careless actions. In Tennessee, it is considered a Class D felony.

The punishments for Involuntary homicide vary depending upon the seriousness and class of the felony. In Tennessee, they are as follows:

  • Class B felony – felonies under Class B entail sentencing between 8-30 years, and a fine of up to $25,000.
  • Class C felony – these felonies can lead to sentencing between 3-15 years, and a fine up to $10,000.
  • Class D felony – entails a prison sentence between 2-12 years, and a fine not more than $5,000.
  • Class E felony – entails a prison sentence between 1-6 years, and a fine not more than $3,000.

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