Legal Definitions in Relation to Drunk Driving Homicides
Homicide is the negligent, reckless, knowing, or intentional act of killing someone else. Texas law divides homicide into two major categories – manslaughter and murder. In Texas, Manslaughter is defined as ‘’recklessly’’ causing the death of an individual. Texas, unlike other states, doesn’t separately classify ‘’involuntary’’ and ‘’voluntary’’ manslaughter. Attorney Tad A. Nelson, a top Houston DWI Attorney, has had numerous rounds with Texas prosecutors on behalf of clients of his that were charged with a felony DWI by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Of great importance to note is that Intoxication Manslaughter is very different from Vehicular Manslaughter or Regular Manslaughter. These two need proof of reckless driving or reckless act. If you operate a car in a public place while under influence, the law, in effect, assumes that such an act is ‘’reckless’’ of and in itself. Consequently, prosecutors and law enforcement don’t need to show any act of reckless driving.
While that might be the case, the state must prove that an individual’s intoxication caused another person’s death. In fact, this is a crucial component as well as a valuable resource for such kinds of cases. Simply put, it means that just because you’re intoxicated and involved in an accident that resulted to death, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically guilt of this offense.
According to the law, the state has the obligation to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the main cause of the accident was intoxication.
So what does a great defense to such a charge look like? Well, it needs a comprehensive investigation into not only whether the individual is intoxicated but also how an accident occurred.
Jail Sentencing for Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas
In Texas, Intoxication Manslaughter is a 2nd degree felony. It carries a potential punishment of 2 – 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Where this offense is somewhat different in terms of punishment other kinds of homicide, its punishment can be more severe if the victims are many. For instance, if an individual is convicted and sentenced to fifteen years on every case, the law usually permits a judge to ‘’stack’’ or cumulate the punishments so that the defendant ends up with a thirty year prison sentence (15 + 15). Similarly, if only one individual is killed and another one gets seriously injured, it results to an Intoxication Assault charge. The punishments for both of these charges can equally be accumulated together to surpass the normal 20 year maximum on a 2nd degree felony.
Just like with the other vehicular homicide offenses, prosecutors of Intoxication Manslaughter tend to often allege that the truck or car an individual was driving was an extremely ‘’deadly weapon.’’ In doing so, if you’re convicted and sent to prison, you’ll spend more time therein prior to qualifying for parole. The judge is prohibited from granting an individual probation.
Intoxication vs. Vehicular Manslaughter – Is there a difference?
Often, vehicular manslaughter is used to describe different acts of reckless driving which result in or cause the death of someone. For instance, in Texas, it’s against the law to take part in a drag race at a public highway. If 2 cars take part in such a race and then one of the drivers ends up getting killed, the other one might be charged with vehicular manslaughter. The most common example of vehicular manslaughter is when someone gets struck and is killed by an individual driving under the intoxication of alcohol. The other important thing to note is that intoxication manslaughter doesn’t refer only to drunk driving accidents; it also applies to any case where an individual under the influence operates an amusement park ride, airplane, boat or a car and as a result causes the death of someone else by mistake or accident.
Hire a Houston Intoxication Manslaughter Defense Lawyer
Intoxication Manslaughter is among the most challenging types of criminal charges to defend against. Its consequences are severe for anyone involved. Did you know that even media coverage for this offense far exceeds any other criminal offense? Different groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving are pushing hard for prosecution of offenders to the full extent of the law. As a result, you need to hire a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney that’s familiar with Texas intoxication manslaughter. Your prospective lawyer must understand how such an offense is investigated, prosecuted, and defended.