In Tennessee, First Degree Murder is one of the most serious charges any citizen could be charged with. First Degree Murder is a very complicated criminal charge that has a variety of definitions under Tennessee law. Below are the elements of First Degree Murder that the District Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a citizen of First Degree Murder in Tennessee.
First Degree Murder is defined in the following ways:
(1) A premeditated and intentional killing of another; or
(2) A killing of another committed in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate any first degree murder, act of terrorism, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, theft, kidnapping, physical abuse in violation of T.C.A. §71-6-119, aggravated neglect of an elderly of vulnerable adult in violation of T.C.A. §39-15-508, aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, rape of a child, aggravated rape of a child or aircraft piracy; or
(3) A killing of another committed as the result of the unlawful throwing, placing or discharging of a destructive device or bomb.
The definitions and elements of First-Degree murder are very complicated; especially with regard to the determination of whether the person accused acted with premeditation. In Tennessee, “premeditation” means that the intent to kill must have been formed prior to the act itself. It is not necessary that the purpose to kill preexist in the mind of the accused for any definite period of time. The mental state of the accused at the time the accused allegedly decided to kill must be carefully considered in order to determine whether the accused was sufficiently free from excitement and passion as to be capable of premeditation.