Nashville Murder Lawyer

Murder is the ultimate crime, with the most serious penalties of all violent crimes. If convicted of murder in Tennessee, you could face life in prison without parole, a lifetime prison sentence, or even the death penalty, based on the circumstances of the case.

With stakes this high, you should ideally seek the help of a murder defense lawyer as early on in the case as possible.

An experienced murder defense attorney can aggressively protect your rights and give you the best chance to get a favorable outcome.

At Byron Pugh Legal, our work is widely recognized throughout courts in Nashville, TN. Our attorneys have a reputation for results in violent crime cases.

When you come to us, we will investigate the facts of your case and start obtaining evidence in your favor. We will also protect your rights throughout the case, from the initial arrest to the trial and appeal stages.

In case the evidence against you was obtained through illegal seizures or in violation of your rights, we can have it thrown out.

In case the charges cannot be resolved through a plea deal or negotiation, our Nashville murder defense attorneys are not afraid to take the case to trial.

We shall hold the prosecution to its burden of demonstrating all the elements of the murder charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Table of Contents

Types of Murder Crimes in Tennessee

Killing another person is a crime. The law recognizes different forms of killing, with murder being the most serious offense and manslaughter having lesser consequences.

The different types of murders as recognized by Tennessee law are outlined below:

  • First-degree murder: This is the most serious murder charge you could face. There are three main types of first-degree murder – premeditated murder, murder involving a bomb, and felony murder. If convicted of first-degree murder, you could face life behind bars or the death penalty.
  • Second-degree murder: This is the willful killing of another person, including repeated acts such as drug distribution or bodily injury. It’s classified as a Class A felony and may carry a punishment of 15 to 60 years behind bars and potential fines.
  • Voluntary manslaughter: This is the intentional killing of another person in a state of passion as a result of significant provocation. The provocation has to be at a level that leads a reasonable person to behave irrationally. It’s classified as a Class B felony, with 3 to 15 years imprisonment and potential fines if convicted.
  • Reckless Homicide: This occurs when a person kills another through acts of recklessness. An example would be a motorist pulling into a crowd of people and ending up killing one of them. While they had no intent to kill, their actions were reckless. Reckless homicide is classified as a Class D felony, carrying 2 to 12 years imprisonment and potential fines.
  • Negligent Homicide: This occurs when a person kills another as a result of engaging in conduct that should have been known to create a risk of death.


infographic detailing the different murder crimes in tennessee

Keep in mind that in Tennessee, the killing of another person may include a child in utero. As such, if a person is charged with killing a pregnant woman, they may also be charged with killing her unborn child.

Similarly, there are some exceptions to the penalties. For instance, under Tennessee law, the legally incompetent, intellectually disabled, and legally insane cannot be sentenced to death if they are presumed to not understand the gravity of their actions.

In any case, if you or a loved one is charged with murder, you need a murder defense lawyer who has the skills, experience, and resources to build a successful case.

At Byron Pugh Legal we have all three – we know that the stakes are high and we’ll do everything in our power to protect your best interests.

Nashville Murder Defense Lawyer

How We Build Your Defense Around The Circumstances Around the Case

While murder charges aren’t as common as other criminal charges, they still do happen in several different ways and under different circumstances.

Understanding the kind of defense strategies available in these cases is important, to have a good idea of how defense attorneys work to disprove the prosecution’s narrative against the accused.

The following are some of the different strategies that your attorney may use in their defense against your murder charges:

Justifiable homicide

Not every murder case will amount to a crime, especially when one is justified. One of the most common legal justifications for killing another person is self-defense and defense of other people.

The justifications can be quite difficult to prove and will require the accused to demonstrate that reasonable force was used in response to a reasonable threat of death or bodily harm.

Another example of justified homicide is the exercise of duty, such as when a police officer uses reasonable force without unlawful intent.

Lower culpability

Different murder charges have different culpability levels. As such, the level of criminal liability usually varies from charge to charge. First-degree murder is the most serious murder charge, and it has the greatest level of criminal liability since it’s premeditated and willful.

When negotiating for reduced charges and consequences, murder defense lawyers may focus on elements like intent.

For instance, if your lawyer can successfully highlight that the murder was a result of misfortune or an unavoidable accident, it may reduce the charges to manslaughter, which has much less severe penalties.

Nashville Murder

Unlawfully obtained evidence

The prosecution is often zealous about making arrests when it comes to murder cases.

While this is sometimes warranted, considering the risk to the public, the zealousness could lead to coercive and inappropriate interrogation tactics, including violations of civil rights and violations of procedure.

In such a case, the confession can be proven as coerced, false, or involuntary, and an attorney could fight to have it excluded from evidence.

Similarly, if the arresting officers conducted unlawful searches and seizures to secure evidence against a person charged with murder, or to arrest and detain the suspect, they violate due procedure and civil rights.

This presents a great defense approach, as your lawyer could have the evidence obtained through unlawful search and seizure thrown out, which could make it difficult for the prosecution to prove guilt.

Mistaken identity

Sometimes, innocent people are charged with crimes they didn’t commit, simply due to the mistaken identity of the perpetrator. In many criminal cases, the prosecution relies on highly unreliable eyewitness accounts.

While eyewitnesses are often honest people trying to have justice served, human memory is often more fallible than most people realize, and misidentifying individuals is quite common.

A criminal defense lawyer can help argue that the prosecution is charging the wrong person with murder, especially if they can demonstrate that the person was not near the area where the murder happened at the said time.


Insanity is a defense strategy available for many crimes, including murder charges.

If an attorney uses insanity as a defense, it means that the suspect was suffering from diminished mental functioning or an abnormality of mental faculties from a recognized medical condition.

It could also mean that the defendant was substantially impaired to tell that their behavior was wrong.

Murder is certainly not an easy crime to successfully defend against.

Still, an experienced murder defense lawyer can handle the case effectively by taking their time to meticulously conduct independent investigations and build a strong case based on all available defenses.

This is what our team will do on your behalf, no matter the circumstances of your case.

Byron Pugh Can Help

Why Hire Us?

When you’re charged with murder, the stakes couldn’t be higher. You may be looking at life in prison without parole, with the possibility of the death penalty. You should work with a skilled criminal defense lawyer.

The criminal defense team at Byron Pugh Legal understands this, and we will make it our mission to serve your best interests. We have handled thousands of criminal cases, and we know the various defense strategies to take on murder charges.

We know that criminal cases often take a long time, considering the investigations alone may drag on for months before charges are even filed. We will be on your side no matter how long the case takes.

We’ll use the time to create a bulletproof case, and help you weigh all your legal options.

If at any point of the process, you find yourself deciding whether to take a plea deal or go to trial, we will help you understand the implications of either decision.

We take pride in answering all the questions you may have and addressing any concerns about the consequences of a conviction. With our team on your side, you can feel confident about each decision you make.

Talk to a Nashville, TN Murder Defense Lawyer Today

Murder charges demand working with an experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyer.

If you’re a suspect in a murder/manslaughter investigation or a loved one has been charged with murder, contact us immediately to schedule a free consultation with our legal team. Don’t wait another minute to protect your rights or those of your loved one.

You can contact our Nashville murder defense lawyers at 615-255-9595 or submit the form below.

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