In the state of Tennessee, a first-degree murder charge is the most serious one that a person can face. In cases involving aggravating factors, an individual could spend the rest of his or her life in prison without the possibility of parole. There is also the chance that a person could be put to death. Aggravating factors include mutilating a dead body, hiring someone to commit the murder or killing someone to interfere with an ongoing criminal case.
These penalties could be applied if the victim is older than 70 or younger than 12 years of age. Finally, an individual may be sentenced to life in prison or death if he or she is convicted of killing three or more people in a span of 48 months or has been convicted of a violent felony in the past. Defendants or their attorneys may be able to create a variety of defenses to a first-degree murder charge.
For instance, it may be possible to claim that an individual was forced to commit murder by another person. An attorney may also claim that a person was merely an accomplice to the crime and that he or she was only a minor participant in any events that led to a person dying. Finally, an attorney may argue that a person had a moral reason to kill another individual.
Individuals who are charged with violent crimes may benefit from hiring a criminal law attorney. An attorney might create enough reasonable doubt to allow a client to obtain a plea deal or an acquittal. This may be done by casting doubt on witness testimony or other evidence used at trial. Legal counsel may be able to have evidence suppressed prior to a trial starting, which might weaken the case against a defendant.