Vehicular manslaughter in Texas can be somewhat confusing. What exactly is it and how does it differ from intoxication manslaughter? And when do murder, involuntary manslaughter, and voluntary manslaughter all come into play? In Texas, all of these things are very different, separate charges. So let’s take a few minutes to clear things up.

Murder vs. Manslaughter: What’s the difference?

When it comes to murder vs. manslaughter in Texas, the key difference is the intent. If it can be proven that the defendant willingly and knowingly caused the death of another, that person will be charged with murder and not manslaughter. On the other hand, if it can only be established that the defendant caused another person’s death unintentionally through negligent or reckless actions, that person may be charged with manslaughter instead of murder. 

While you may have heard of involuntary and voluntary manslaughter, there is no distinction in Texas. There is only manslaughter, and in this case, intent does not need to exist. However, sentencing can vary depending on the surrounding circumstances of the case.

Charged with manslaughter? Learn all about Houston’s go-to manslaughter defense attorney.

What is intoxication manslaughter in Texas?

Although there is no differentiation between involuntary and voluntary manslaughter in Texas DWI laws, Texas is the only state with a specific statute for intoxication manslaughter (sometimes referred to as DWI manslaughter). Intoxication manslaughter is a form of manslaughter, but it specifically means that one person has caused the death of another while driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Learn more about intoxication manslaughter punishments in Texas.

What is vehicular manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter is similar to intoxication manslaughter but does not involve drugs and alcohol. Vehicular manslaughter in Texas is when a person has caused the death of another while recklessly driving a vehicle (although even a pedestrian can technically be charged with vehicular manslaughter). Reckless driving could involve speeding, running red lights, or driving with little to no sleep.  

Now that’s not to say that you can’t be charged with murder if you kill someone as the result of a crash or collision. If it can be proven that you intended to strike another vehicle or pedestrian with your car, you could be charged with murder. 

Learn what vehicular manslaughter jail time looks like.

What are the defenses for intoxication manslaughter?

Intoxication manslaughter may be a higher-stakes charge than DWI, but the defense tactics for defending the two charges aren’t entirely unrelated. In order to convict someone of intoxication manslaughter, the prosecution must prove three key factors:

  • Proving that you were legally intoxicated at the time of the accident (0.8 BAC or higher)
  • Proving that your intoxication was responsible for the accident
  • Proving that you were generally at fault for the accident

In addition to actually establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated during the fatal accident, the prosecution must also prove that said intoxication was also the cause of the accident. For instance, if the victim ran a red light, struck your vehicle (which you were operating under the influence of alcohol), and died as a result, your manslaughter defense attorney may use the circumstances of the accident to disprove the intoxication manslaughter charges.

Charged with vehicular manslaughter in Texas? Get help now.

Underlying all the technical differences between vehicular manslaughter in Texas, intoxication manslaughter, and murder is one very simple truth: these are serious charges, and you need experienced support ASAP if you have been arrested and accused of any of them. You need an attorney who has helped clients fight and beat vehicular manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter charges before, and that’s exactly what you get when you work with the Thiessen Law Firm. 

Here at Thiessen Law Firm, we have the know-how, experience, and resources you need to fight back against charges of this severity. Give us a call today at 713-864-9000 or request a free consultation online. We’re here for you every step of the way.

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Mark Thiessen

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.