Killeen Intoxication Manslaughter Defense Attorneys
Representing those accused of deadly DWIs in Harker Heights, Copperas Cove, and throughout Central Texas
Drivers can be charged with second-degree felonies if they kill someone while they are operating their vehicle while intoxicated. There are severe consequences, including the possibility of substantial prison time for a conviction.
At Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, our experienced Killeen intoxication manslaughter attorneys have decades of experience fighting for the accused. We know how to fight against these charges, and how to dismantle the case against you. If you have been accused of intoxication manslaughter, contact us today.
What is intoxication manslaughter?
Under Texas Penal Code 49.08, a person commits intoxication manslaughter if he or she:
- Operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride; and
- Are intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.
Generally, this is a second-degree felony, which means you may face between two and 20 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines. You may also be subject to civil lawsuits brought by the family.
If more than one person was killed, then the person who is charged could be charged with multiple offenses. For example, if the accused swerves into the road and hits Car A, killing Car A’s driver and three passengers, then the accused will face four counts of intoxication manslaughter. The penalties could be stacked so that a conviction would result in up to 80 years in prison and up to $40,000 in fines. Those prison sentences can be run concurrently or consecutively.
How does Texas define manslaughter?
Manslaughter is generally a less serious charge than homicide, because the person who commits homicide does so with malice and malicious intent. Manslaughter is usually due to an accident – though it is an accident that is generally not forgivable. In intoxication manslaughter cases, the person killed can be a driver, a passenger, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist. The death doesn’t need to be immediate. If a person dies days or weeks later, the driver/vehicle operator can be charged with intoxication manslaughter.
How can a Killeen intoxication manslaughter defense attorney help?
Proving an intoxication manslaughter charge, according to the Texas penal code, requires either a showing that your blood alcohol level was .08 or more – or that you didn’t have “the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.” In other words, you don’t have to be legally drunk to be convicted of intoxication manslaughter.
Possible defenses include:
- The officer doesn’t have any direct knowledge of your “normal faculties” are at the time of the accident
- The breath test equipment wasn’t authorized or validated
- The police officer wasn’t certified, or the tests were administered improperly
- The police don’t have evidence you were the driver
- Any breath tests were given after too much time had elapsed since the accident occurred
- You were involuntarily and unknowingly drugged
Remember that the prosecution has to prove that your intoxication resulted in an accident which killed someone in order for this particular charge to hold. For example, if you are drunk behind the wheel and another vehicle hits you, slamming your car into a third vehicle which leads to the death of the driver of that third vehicle, you may be able to have your charges reduced. If you hit a pothole or blow a tire, and that leads your car to swerve uncontrollably into another lane, you may be able to have your charged reduced. If the other driver blows through a red light and hits you, killing himself, we can argue that your charges should be dismissed entirely.
Other defenses may apply, depending on exactly what happened and what witnesses say or don’t say.
Get help for an intoxication manslaughter charge with Killeen defense lawyers
There’s nothing more traumatic that being involved in an accident where someone dies. Car accidents are a leading cause of death in Texas and throughout the United States. At Mary Beth Harrell Law Firm, our criminal defense lawyers fight to protect your freedom. We fight to show that you weren’t driving while intoxicated by contesting breath and other chemical tests. We assert every defense that applies, including the possibility that the victim contributed to the accident by driving recklessly or being otherwise negligent. To talk with an experienced DWI lawyer, call us at 254-680-4655 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Killeen and Harker Heights.