If you are accused of causing a fatal accident while driving intoxicated, your life may never be the same. Our Denton, Texas criminal defense lawyers understand the gravity and complexity of an intoxication manslaughter charge. Our depth of knowledge is critical to your future.
We encourage you to secure representation with a Denton intoxication manslaughter lawyer immediately to protect yourself and your family’s peace of mind.
The Basis for an Intoxication Manslaughter Charge
According to Texas Penal Code § 49.08, if you drive a motor vehicle while intoxicated and cause a fatal crash, you will most likely be charged with intoxication manslaughter. It doesn’t matter if the individual who died was a passenger in your car or the driver or passenger in another car involved in the accident.
This charge also applies if you are intoxicated and cause a fatality while operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride.
You will likely face a charge of intoxication manslaughter, which is a second-degree felony in Texas, if:
- Your blood alcohol concentration was 0.08% or more.
- You were under the influence of legal or illegal drugs that affected your ability to function mentally or physically.
- A combination of alcohol and drugs impaired you to the point of intoxication.
Manslaughter or Murder?
The law looks at your intent or lack of intent when determining a charge of intoxication manslaughter or murder. Understanding that each case is unique, in general, the following applies:
- If you caused someone’s death by mistake or accident due to your intoxication and did not intend to kill the person, the charge is intoxication manslaughter.
- If you kill someone intentionally, the charge is murder.
In general, murder charges will be more significant than manslaughter charges. However, that does not mean manslaughter charges will not affect your life dramatically.
Punishment for a Conviction of Intoxication Manslaughter
The circumstances specific to your case will affect the charge and, if convicted, the punishment for intoxication manslaughter.
According to Texas Penal Code § 12.33, if you are convicted of a second-degree felony, your penalties may include:
- 2 to 20 years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
If more than one person died in the accident, you may be convicted for each fatality, and your sentences would likely run consecutively, not concurrently. Therefore, for each conviction, your time in prison could be extended an additional two to 20 years. You may also face additional fines.
If the deceased was a peace officer, firefighter, or another first responder who was on duty at the time of death, you could be convicted of a felony of the first degree and face penalties of:
- 5 to 99 years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
Additional Consequences from an Intoxication Manslaughter Conviction
If you are convicted of a second-degree felony, you may:
- Lose the right to vote
- Lose the right to own a firearm
- Have a permanent criminal history
- Have difficulty gaining employment
- Have difficulty finding housing
- Have difficulty retaining custody of your children
- Suffer devastating damage to your reputation
We know that the possibility of conviction for a second-degree felony is frightening. Our Denton criminal defense attorneys will fight hard for your future, applying our years of experience and knowledge toward the best possible outcome for you.
Defense Against Intoxication Manslaughter Charges
A charge of intoxication manslaughter is challenging, but may be defensible. Our Denton, Texas intoxication manslaughter attorneys will attack the prosecution’s case with a multipronged approach that may include:
- Hiring experts to reconstruct the incident, including tracking what each person ate or drank, where they were, and what they did in the hours leading up to the incident. In addition, we’ll look at road conditions, vehicle maintenance for all those involved, driving histories, and medical histories. We can collect CCTV, still images, eyewitness statements, police and medical reports, and any information that explains what happened.
- Challenging the administration or results of the blood alcohol concentration test, breathalyzer test, or field sobriety test. The responding officer may not have followed protocols properly, or equipment may be faulty. Additionally, field sobriety test results are subjective and may be inadvertently tainted by the officer’s state of mind during administration.
- Identifying an alternate cause of the accident that led to the fatality. Your blood alcohol concentration may have been 0.08%, but perhaps the accident was caused by another driver speeding or running a red light, indicating the accident that caused the fatality had nothing to do with your BAC.
- Reviewing police actions to confirm whether they followed proper procedure for collecting evidence and preserving your rights.
Our Previous Clients Testify of Our Success
This former client’s experience speaks to the heart of our work:
“Simply the best criminal defense lawyer in Texas! We hired him to represent our family on a felony case that not only could have had my father behind bars for the rest of his life but could [have] taken the most vital member of our family from us. From day one he guided us, advised us and walked with us until the very end. He was genuine and cared for our family’s well being and always represented us having our best interest at heart.
He had the charges dropped to a lower offense and after probationary compliance the case was dismissed returning our peace. I can honestly say my family is happy and together today because of this man and his caring and amazing team. Everyone cares and works hard to get justice done at this firm – always responsive and diligent with his clients.” -Nuria G.
Our Denton intoxication manslaughter attorneys are ready to fight for you.
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Get a Free Consultation With the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg Today
Attorney Randall B. Isenberg has been in the legal arena for decades, formerly as a Senior Chief Felony Prosecutor and State District Trial Judge. Attorney Isenberg is board certified in criminal defense by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a certified criminal defense advocate with the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
We know you may be in the most difficult spot of your life. Contact us today for a free consultation. A Denton intoxication manslaughter lawyer from our team is ready to help.