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Manslaughter and Vehicular Manslaughter
DWI convictions that involve car accidents resulting in death can dovetail with charges of intoxication manslaughter. However, there are several different types of manslaughter charges that Texas drivers can face even if the driver has not been found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Vehicular manslaughter cases are becoming more commonplace in Texas and especially in metropolitan areas like Dallas and Fort Worth, where more and more people are distracted while driving in various ways. Road rage and distracted driving (because of cell phones, texting, eating, etc.) can all be the basis for drivers facing charges of manslaughter in Texas.
Vehicular manslaughter can also result from situations of Failure to Stop and Render Aid under Texas Transportation Code Section 550.023. While Texas law requires anyone to stop at the scene of a motor vehicle accident in which he or she has been involved, the punishment is the most severe in a hit and run accident where someone leaves the scene where a person is injured or has died. Leaving the scene of an accident with serious injury or death can mean a sentence of 2 to 10 years in state prison.
Bottom line, vehicular manslaughter charges can result in any case where a person dies in an accident on a Texas roadway and the death is caused by the actions of another driver. Drugs and alcohol are not the only bases for drivers facing criminal manslaughter charges after the death of someone in a car crash.
Criminal manslaughter charges can be filed against Texas drivers where there are accident fatalities which include the following:
- Under Texas Penal Code § 19.04, a person can be charged with manslaughter if he recklessly causes the death of another.
- Under Texas Penal Code 19.05, a person can be charged with manslaughter if the driver is found to have been grossly negligent in driving the vehicle, then he can be charged with criminally negligent vehicular homicide.
The Texas Transportation Code also defines situations where a driver can be charged with manslaughter.
- Texas Transportation Code §521.457 states that a person can face charges of vehicular manslaughter if he causes the death of another person while driving with a suspended or invalid license and without possessing the statutory motor vehicle liability insurance; and
- Texas Transportation Code §545.401 can form the basis for Texas prosecutors to charge you with vehicular manslaughter if you are alleged to have recklessly driven a vehicle in a manner that led to the accident that caused someone’s death.
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Section 49.08 of the Texas Penal Code defines Intoxication Manslaughter. According to Texas law, a person commits the crime of Intoxication Manslaughter if he:
(1) operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride; and
(2) is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.
Except as provided by Texas Penal Code § 49.09, an offense under this section is a felony of the 2nd (second) degree. A second degree felony in Texas, as a general rule, brings with it a maximum fine of $10,000 and a sentence of incarceration in a Texas State prison for between 2 and 20 years.
Texas Manslaughter Statute
By definition, conviction for the crime of intoxication manslaughter involves someone being proven to be legally intoxicated through blood alcohol testing or other methods, and thereafter having evidence sufficient to support the charge that this intoxication was the proximate cause of another human being. The fact that this death was not intended, that it was a mistake, or that the person responsible for the death is remorseful or shocked at the death will not prevent the prosecution from establishing a prima facie case of “intoxication manslaughter.”
DWI and Intoxication Manslaughter Charges
More and more often, Texas prosecutors are proceeding with intoxication manslaughter charges as well as charges of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in cases where a drunk driving accident has resulted in one or more fatalities. In these situations, the defendant will face both the consequences of a DWI on his or her record, but the very serious result of a 2nd degree felony punishment if there is a conviction on the intoxication manslaughter charge.
For anyone facing the possibility of charges of both DWI and Intoxication Manslaughter, the importance of having a knowledgeable and experienced DWI defense lawyer at their side as soon as possible cannot be underestimated.
Even if someone is concerned that the police or the district attorney may be considering charges of both DWI and intoxication manslaughter – just considering them, no charges having been filed yet – then it may be a very wise decision to get criminal defense counsel. DWI lawyers and those experienced criminal defense attorneys in dealing with intoxication manslaughter cases welcome the opportunity to fight for lesser charges and negotiate possibilities early in the case: the earlier the better.
If you have been charged with DWI after being in an accident that involved the death of someone in your car or in another vehicle, you may be facing serious additional charges that include second degree felony intoxication manslaughter. It is never too soon to get the expertise and help of a DWI defense lawyer on your side, and having someone with years of DWI defense experience to fight for you in court can make a big difference in how you live the rest of your life.
Texas Manslaughter Defense Lawyer
As a former prosecutor turned criminal defense lawyer with over 150 jury trials defending clients against charges brought by district attorneys and U.S. federal prosecutors in Dallas County, Tarrant County, and elsewhere in the State of Texas, Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe not only brings his years of experience to each case, he also dedicates 100% of his law practice to the defense of those being accused of a crime under Texas or federal law.
With a streamlined law firm that coordinates its efforts to give each client the personal attention that they need and deserve when fighting against the government and the possibility of jail time, fines, permanent marks on public records, prison incarceration, loss of licensure, loss of jobs, absence from family events and everyday living, Michael Lowe maintains an efficient and excellent criminal trial practice that is ready to help you or your loved ones in your defense against criminal charges from pre-arrest investigation to post-trial appeals.
To discuss your case in a free and completely confidential consultation, please contact Dallas Board Certified Criminal Lawyer Michael Lowe today.