No one ever intends to commit intoxication manslaughter in Texas, and we all know that driving while intoxicated is a bad idea. As if the danger you pose to yourself and others isn’t already bad enough, the penalties for DWI in Texas are pretty steep. A first offense DWI can already cost you $2,000 in fines, and leave you without a driver’s license for up to one year. However, if you commit intoxication manslaughter and kill someone while driving under the influence, those consequences can get much more severe. If you have the assistance of a trial-tested Houston DWI Lawyer, you may see a more favorable outcome. At any rate, it’s critical to understand the nature of an intoxication manslaughter sentence.
What Is Intoxication Manslaughter?
Intoxication manslaughter in the state of Texas is the charge a person receives for causing a fatal motor vehicle accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. Even if you were not technically at fault for the accident, you can still be arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter.
Before we move on to the penalties for intoxication manslaughter in Texas, let’s establish the key differences between a manslaughter case and homicide in a court of law. In most cases, murder requires some sort of motive, premeditation, or conscious action by the offender to kill their victim. Manslaughter, on the other hand, requires that a victim’s death be the result of “criminal negligence” from the accused, and that the resulting death was not intentional. In this context “criminal negligence” means behavior that is reckless beyond all reason, and is performed with disregard for the safety of others. In the context of an intoxication manslaughter case, driving while intoxicated would qualify as criminal negligence, making the resulting death a crime regardless of your intent.
Intoxication Manslaughter Sentences & Punishments in Texas
Naturally, intoxication manslaughter sentences are much more severe than regular DWI or DUI. In Texas, intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony. The State of Texas punishes second degree felony convictions with 2-20 year prison sentences, and/or a fine of up to $10,000. In addition to fines and jail time, Texas law also requires anyone convicted in an intoxication manslaughter case to serve at least 240 hours of community service, with room for an additional 800 hours at the state’s discretion. However, you may be able to beat an intoxication manslaughter case, with the right help.
How Texas Intoxication Manslaughter Charges are Beaten
One of the most important aspects of beating an intoxication manslaughter charge in Texas is proving that your driving while intoxicated was not directly responsible for the other person’s death. Sometimes this can be established through hard evidence such as video footage or eyewitness testimony. Other times, your lawyer must establish reasonable doubt around the circumstances of the accident.
For instance, if you were driving home after a few beers at .08 blood alcohol concentration, and someone plowed through a red light, causing you to hit them, your being intoxicated would not be the direct cause of any subsequent death or injuries. While you might still be guilty of DWI, in this instance the other person is legally responsible for the accident, and therefore, their own death.
Another, more complicated way that intoxication manslaughter charges can be beaten is by utilizing Texas’ “Time of Driving” rules to establish reasonable doubt as to whether or not you were intoxicated at the time of the accident. In Texas, the prosecution is required to prove that you were actually intoxicated at the time of the accident in order to successfully convict you of intoxication manslaughter. The science used by the state to prove this is extremely faulty, and can be effectively questioned in court. I would know, since I used this approach to beat four counts of intoxication manslaughter in my biggest case ever.
Charged With Intoxication Manslaughter? You Need Mark Thiessen on Your Side.
Even one death as the result of drunk driving is too many, and we hope that all of our fans and followers make wise choices and abstain from drinking and driving. But if you or someone you know is being charged with intoxication manslaughter in Texas, you need to act and you need to act fast. Mark Thiessen is a trial-tested Houston DWI attorney who has helped his clients successfully beat intoxication manslaughter charges using science, agressive tactics, and a strong DWI expertise.