According to the Texas Penal Code, if you are operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and your intoxication leads to another person’s death in an accident, you will be charged with intoxication manslaughter.
Although the death, in this case, may be purely accidental, you will face criminal charges. The legal consequences of this offense can be severe, so make sure you work with a top-rated Texas intoxication manslaughter attorney who can put up a vigorous defense for you.
Penalties for Intoxication Manslaughter
In Texas, intoxication manslaughter is treated as a second-degree felony. You may face jail time between two and 20 years as well as a fine of up to $10,000. If multiple victims are involved in the accident, the penalties may be higher. For example, if three people were killed in one crash, you could be charged with three counts of intoxication manslaughter.
Therefore, if you are sentenced to 12 years on each count, the judge in Texas is allowed to stack up or cumulate the penalties so that you may end up with 36 years of jail term (12 + 12 + 12). The prosecution in these cases will typically allege that the vehicle you were driving while intoxicated was a “deadly weapon” in order to press for more severe penalties.
Unless you have solid legal representation from an experienced Texas intoxication manslaughter attorney, you could lose your opportunity for probation or face more time in jail before you are eligible for parole.
Linking the Cause of Death with Intoxication
In cases of intoxication manslaughter, the onus is on the prosecution to prove that your intoxication caused the death of the victim. This can be hard to establish and a seasoned criminal defense lawyer in Texas will focus on this aspect for your defense.
The law says that just because you were involved in an accident while you were intoxicated does not automatically mean that you caused the victim’s death. The state must prove the charge of intoxication manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt.
Legal Nuances in these Cases
Your attorney will evaluate all possible legal defenses if you have been charged with intoxication manslaughter. In Texas, this offense is considered a strict liability, which means even when the death occurs by mistake and without any intent, the guilt is attached. Men's rea or mental state defense does not apply in these cases.
Therefore, one of the most vital defenses your attorney may be able to use in court is to claim that you were not intoxicated at the time of the crash. Your lawyer will know all the legal nuances in these cases.
For example, if an unborn child dies in the pregnant mother’s womb while the woman was traveling as a passenger in the victim’s vehicle, it will be treated as a crime in Texas. However, if the pregnant mother herself causes the death of the fetus while driving intoxicated, it is not considered a crime.
Consult with a Trusted Attorney for Intoxication Manslaughter Defense
Veteran DWI defense lawyers at Flood & Associates have the knowledge and experience to fight the charges of intoxication manslaughter. Our outstanding record of success speaks for itself, and we can help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case. For a free case review, call us at 713.224.5529 or complete this online contact form.