An intoxication manslaughter charge in Tarrant County is one of the most difficult charges to face and is challenging for judges, juries, and attorneys alike. Anyone who has driven home and regretted it the next morning realizes that either blind luck or the grace of God prevented them from facing a crime of this magnitude. Unlike most criminal offenses, there is no mental state requirement for the offense. In other words, it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that you intended to hurt someone.
Further complicating matters are “causation” issues that often arise in intoxication manslaughter cases. Was another vehicle involved? Did the other driver contribute to the accident? Was the other driver also intoxicated? Was the victim restrained by a seatbelt? These are all issues that a trier of fact may have to evaluate.
Intoxication must be proven at the time of the act, accident, or wreck that caused the death. Additionally, intoxication must be proven to the cause of the death, either by accident or mistake.
If you are a loved one is facing a charge of intoxication manslaughter, it’s vital to retain a Fort Worth manslaughter lawyer with extensive experience litigating intoxication cases and the complex issues that come with them. We can help. Call today to learn more about our law firm and the experience and expertise we bring to bear on high profile, highly emotional cases.
Intoxication manslaughter is the most serious intoxication crime in Texas. It is committed when an intoxicated driver causes the death of another person.
Intoxication manslaughter in Tarrant County is a second-degree felony, and the punishment range is between 2 and 20 years in prison. Deferred adjudication is not an option for an intoxication-related offense. A sentence of less than 10 years may be probated.
Even if a sentence is probated, the probationer must spend at least 30 days, day-for-day, in custody. Additionally, the probationer will not be able to consume alcohol for the probationary period (most often 10 years), will have license suspensions, and be subject to numerous other conditions, including having interlock installed on any vehicle that is operated on an occupational license, taking classes, performing community service and reporting to probation officers once a month. You read correctly: Most individuals who are placed on probation for intoxication manslaughter are on probation for 10 years. This means a probationer can be perfect for 9.5 years, then have a violation and be sentenced to 20 years in prison. In essence, a person who is placed on probation is giving up 30 years of their life to the court in some sense.
Additionally, it is common in some counties, including Tarrant County, to slap on an additional paragraph in the indictment alleging a deadly weapon (a vehicle) was used in the offense. The effect of a deadly weapon finding is that the judge cannot give probation in a case where the deadly weapon enhancement is found to be true. Only a jury can give probation in that situation, and only for sentences that are 10 years or less. Additionally, a deadly weapon finding doubles the time a person must serve in prison before being eligible for parole. More information can be found by referencing Penal Code Section 19.04.
If more than one person died in a drunk-driving accident, the defendant will likely face multiple counts, one for each death. For example, if three people died and the jury sentenced the defendant to 20 years on each count, the exposure could be 60 years in prison if the judge chose to “stack” the sentences. The judge could also run the sentences concurrently or at the same time, which is actually more common in Tarrant County.
Additionally, if the person who passed away in a DWI collision was an emergency medical services worker, the charge will be elevated from a second-decree felony to a first-degree felony crime. A judge may also order the person to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
The consequences of a felony conviction can extend beyond the jail sentence and fines. Convicted felons may find it difficult to obtain certain types of employment or be approved to rent a home by landlords. People who have been convicted of a felony charge in Fort Worth are barred from sitting on a jury, unless these court lifts these restrictions. A felony conviction could also rob someone of their right to see or have custody of their children. When the stakes are this high, it is crucial to have the best defense possible. Call today to find out how a Fort Worth attorney can fight against DWI manslaughter charges.
Yes, causing a fatality wreck while driving under the influence of drugs can also lead to intoxicated manslaughter charges. This can include prescription or illicit drugs.
Get help from experienced Forth Worth DWI Lawyers and an accomplished criminal defense firm. Call one of our Fort Worth DWI manslaughter lawyers today for a free consultation. We have handled numerous intoxication manslaughter cases and have a strong track record of success. Call today to find out how we can help you through one of the most difficult times in your life.
By: Cassandra G.
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