Negligent homicide can be defined as homicide caused by an individual's criminally negligent conduct. Although negligent homicide is considered a lesser offense among criminal homicide offenses, it is a Class E felony which carries incarceration and financial penalties.
On the other hand, reckless homicide is a killing of another caused by an individual's reckless act. Thus, the difference between negligent and reckless homicide is the mental state the accused holds at the time of the accident. The law considers a person having a reckless mindset at the time of the homicide to be more culpable than if the person was simply negligent. Consequently, reckless homicide is classified as a Class D felony, which punishes the accused with a longer prison sentence and larger fines.
T.C.A. § 39-13-212 defines criminally negligent homicide as criminally negligent conduct, which results in the alleged victim's death. For a defendant to be found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, the state of Tennessee must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
The crux of negligent homicide is contained in the definition of criminal negligence under the Tennessee code. Pursuant to T.C.A. § 39-11-302(d), "criminal negligence" refers to when a person acts negligently with respect to circumstances of which he or she should be aware will create a substantial and unjustifiable risk of homicide. To be criminal negligence, however, the risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the accused person's standpoint.
The definition of criminal negligence and criminal recklessness are pretty similar. The key difference lies in what the defendant knew or was aware of at the time of the homicidal conduct. Under the same section as above, the code refers to a person who acts recklessly with respect to circumstances creating a risk of homicide when the person is aware of but consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a homicide will occur. Therefore, the difference between negligent homicide and reckless homicide is that in the case of recklessness, the person was actually aware that he created a substantial risk of homicide; whereas in negligent homicide, the person didn't know that his actions created such a risk - but he should have.
To understand the difference between negligent conduct and reckless conduct, let's look at the Russian Roulette example. A person acts recklessly if he puts a single bullet in a six-shooter, spins the cylinder, and aims and shoots the gun at another person. If the person dies, he has acted recklessly because he has acted with knowledge of a substantial and unjustifiable risk (1/6 chance) that the victim would be seriously injured or killed. A person acts negligently, however, if he picks up the same gun and while believing there are no bullets in the chamber, pulls the trigger without first checking to make sure there were no bullets. If the victim is shot and killed, this would likely be classified as negligent homicide.
A person charged with negligent and/or reckless homicide is facing long prison terms and steep fines. If you or a loved one has been charged with these crimes, it is critical that you contact a Tennessee criminal lawyer immediately.
We have successfully represented individuals charged with homicide offenses in Tennessee. In such cases, the stakes are extremely high. The quality of your life may rest on whether you have a skilled, experienced, and dedicated attorney. Do not take a chance. Get the most aggressive and skilled legal representation by calling Baker Associates today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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