In the 2019-2020 fiscal year, there were 1,779 homicide filings in Tennessee’s criminal courts. In a state where the death penalty has existed for most of its history, some homicide charges bear the most severe punishment possible under Tennessee law. That’s why no one facing homicide charges should face them without an experienced criminal defense attorney on their side.

Whether you’ve been arrested and charged with homicide, or you’re simply the target of an investigation, you should have an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney in your corner to provide an aggressive defense in pursuit of the best possible outcome in your case.

Here at my firm, The Law Offices of Fisher Wise, I provide experienced and aggressive legal representation for clients charged with homicide in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the surrounding counties of Marion, Rhea, Sequatchie, Bradley, and Bledsoe County, Tennessee. I am a tireless fighter who is passionate about the law and representing those faced with criminal charges.

What is Homicide in Tennessee?

As most people know, homicide is a crime against another person. It is the unlawful killing of another, whether it was intentional or unintentional.

The terms “homicide” and “murder” are often used interchangeably; however, they are not the same in the eyes of the law. Murder is criminal homicide, but criminal homicide also includes charges of manslaughter, negligent homicide, and vehicular homicide.

Someone who plans and then kills someone else by shooting them can be convicted of murder. If someone accidentally shoots and kills someone while playing with a gun, this will likely be charged as negligent homicide. While both are considered unlawful killings and therefore homicide, only the first example would be classified as murder.



Understanding The
Different Types of Homicide

There are four major classifications of criminal homicide in Tennessee:


As mentioned above, murder is the intentional killing of another. First-degree murder specifically can be defined as any murder that was premeditated — meaning it was planned and subsequently carried out. Second-degree murder lacks the planning element but maintains the intent to kill.

Voluntary Manslaughter

Voluntary manslaughter is often referred to as a “crime of passion,” occurring in the heat of the moment when one person acts irrationally and kills another person. The most common example would be when a spouse comes home and discovers that their partner is having an affair and, in the heat of the moment, lashes out and kills their partner.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

Criminally negligent homicide involves the death of someone caused by the negligence of another. The defendant was aware of the risks of their actions, failed to act properly, and these negligent actions resulted in the death of another. For example, if someone leaves a child locked in a hot vehicle and the child dies, they could be charged with criminally negligent homicide.

Vehicular Homicide

Vehicular homicide is the reckless killing of another while operating a vehicle, boat, plane, or other motor vehicle.

Possible Penalties for Homicide Convictions

Penalties for homicide convictions are severe and include the following:

  • A conviction for first-degree murder can result in death, life in prison without the possibility of parole, or life in prison.

  • A conviction for second-degree murder, a Class A felony, can result in imprisonment from 15 to 60 years and a fine of $50,000.

  • A voluntary manslaughter conviction is a Class C felony which can result in three to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

  • A criminally negligent homicide conviction, a Class E felony, can result in up to five years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

  • A vehicular homicide conviction is considered a Class C felony that can result in the same penalties as a voluntary manslaughter conviction, meaning three to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Possible Defenses for Homicide Charges

There are some defenses your attorney may use to have homicide charges dropped, obtain a finding of not guilty, or reduce sentencing penalties if you are found guilty in a criminal court. These defense strategies include any of the following:

  • Justifiable Homicide - This is a defense that excuses your actions under the law, which means you are not held accountable for the death. Those defenses might include self-defense, defense of property, duress, or an attempt to prevent another crime.

  • Inability to Intentionally Kill - This defense involves proving insanity, diminished capacity, intoxication, or being unconscious during the homicide.

  • Reasonable Mistake - This defense means proving that you believed the killing was legal and justified. This could involve producing evidence that you believed your life was at risk. It could also involve proving entrapment, such as when law enforcement solicited, encouraged, or induced you to kill.

Hire an Experienced
Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with homicide means you could be facing some of the most severe penalties under Tennessee law. Regardless of your status of guilt or innocence, you are entitled to the best legal defense possible from a homicide defense attorney dedicated to protecting your rights. At my firm, The Law Offices of Fisher Wise, I have spent years proudly serving clients in and around Chattanooga, Tennessee who have been charged with homicide and don’t know where to turn. You deserve a strong advocate and experienced litigator in your corner, so don’t wait. Call or reach out to my firm today to get the help you need.


If you or someone you know has been charged with a homicide offense, do not face these charges on your own. Call the Law Offices of Fisher Wise today to receive aggressive criminal defense services from an attorney who knows how to navigate the Tennessee criminal justice system. I’m proud to serve clients in Chattanooga, Red Bank, East Ridge, Soddy-Daisy, and in Marion County, Rhea County, Sequatchie County, Hamilton County, Bradley County, and Bledsoe County, Tennessee. Your life and your freedom are worth fighting for — let me be the advocate you need.