Legal Practice Tip: 'Transferred Intent' Does Not Work for Voluntary Manslaughter - Articles

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Posted by: Roger Nell on Mar 26, 2019

In a recent case, a defendant was convicted of voluntary manslaughter of an unintended victim.  The unintended victim was in another room when the defendant shot at the intended victim. The intended victim provoked the defendant to the point that he shot at her but missed her. The bullet travelled through a wall and killed the unintended victim, with whom the defendant had had no confrontation. 

The jury convicted the defendant of voluntary manslaughter of the unintended victim. On appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals found that no evidence existed in the record to demonstrate that the unintended victim provoked the defendant prior to her death. Because the unintended victim did not provoke the defendant, the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction of voluntary manslaughter. “Transferred intent does not apply in cases of voluntary manslaughter.” State v. Jenkins, Tenn. Crim. App. No. W2017-02222-CCA-R3-CD, Feb. 15, 2019.

Roger E. Nell is the District Public Defender at 19th Judicial District of Tennessee and current Chair of the TBA Criminal Justice Section. Formerly an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Tennessee, Nell also served in the U.S. Army where he completed numerous assignments on active duty and in reserves, including Deputy Legal Counsel (Reserve), Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; retiring with the rank of Colonel, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Army.