The offense of intoxication manslaughter occurs when an intoxicated person operates a motor vehicle in a public place and, by reason of intoxication, causes the death of another person by accident or mistake. It is essentially a DWI case where an accident results in the death of a passenger, pedestrian or other motorist. This offense is a second degree felony with a punishment range of up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000 and a driver’s license suspension between 180 days and two years.
If the victim is a peace officer, judge, firefighter or EMS personnel who is killed while discharging an official duty, the penalty is increased to a first degree felony with a punishment range of 5 to 99 years or life and a fine up to $10,000.
Intoxication assault occurs when an intoxicated person operates a motor vehicle in a public place and, by reason of intoxication, causes serious bodily injury to another person by accident or mistake. This is a DWI case with accident resulting in serious bodily injury to a passenger, pedestrian or other motorist. This offense is a third degree felony with a punishment range of up to 10 years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000 and a driver’s license suspension from 90 days to one year.
If the victim is a firefighter or EMS personnel discharging official duties, the punishment is increased to a second degree felony with a punishment range of up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. As with intoxication manslaughter, if the victim is a peace officer or a judge discharging an official duty, the penalty is increased to a first degree felony with a punishment range of up to 99 years or life and a fine up to $10,000.
Consequences of Intoxication Manslaughter Conviction
Intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault are serious felony crimes that are treated harshly by prosecutors, judges and juries in Tarrant, Dallas and other counties. Many individuals charged with these crimes receive prison sentences. Additionally, under Texas law, deferred adjudication is not allowed for these crimes. If a person accused of one of these crimes is convicted and receives a probated sentence, they are still required to serve a minimum of 120 days in county jail for intoxication manslaughter and a minimum of 30 days in county jail for intoxication assault.
In addition to the charges filed against you (and prior to your case going to trial) your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days for breath or blood test failure or 180 days for breath or blood test refusal. The suspension period could be up to two years if you have one or more previous DWI convictions. An administrative judge will hear your suspension case if you file a timely request for a hearing to contest the suspension. You must request this hearing within 15 days of your arrest or you will lose your license! Justin Sparks contests every license suspension and requests a live hearing in every case. This provides an opportunity to have police testimony under oath to obtain early discovery in your case.
Being charged with Intoxication Manslaughter or Intoxication Assault does not mean that you are guilty; you need to obtain a highly qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and preserve evidence that could establish your innocence.
Intoxication Manslaughter Investigation
During the immediate police investigation of these charges, police officers will almost always get a search warrant to obtain a blood sample from you to establish your alcohol level. Once the prosecutor’s office receives the arrest file from the police agency, the case is presented to a grand jury for an indictment, and you will be required to appear in court. After indictment, your attorney has the right to discovery of the police report, witness statements, accident report, video of the roadside investigation, video from the jail, and the result of any breath or blood test.
You need a criminal defense attorney with extensive experience in these kinds of cases to evaluate the discovery materials and details of your case. Justin Sparks has tried over 100 DWI cases with legal issues and defenses that are similar to the issues in these types of charges and understands the science behind the breath and blood test calculations. He has access to the best expert witnesses to challenge the test result when it appears to be questionable.
Defenses Against Intoxication Manslaughter
Clearly, being convicted of an intoxication crime can seriously affect your future. However, being charged with one of these offenses does not mean that a conviction is automatic. Potential defenses to these charges are as follows:
You were not the driver of the vehicle;
You were not intoxicated at the time of the accident;
If you were intoxicated, some factor other than your intoxication caused the death or serious bodily injury; and
There is a reasonable doubt about the proof of any of the above elements
Intoxication Charge? Call Justin.
If you have been accused of one of these crimes, do not delay; please fill out the contact form or call Justin Sparks at 817-334-0300 for a free initial consultation concerning your case.
Justin Sparks has been defending clients across Fort Worth and Dallas for over ten years. Our firm helps you through the criminal process, from investigation to appeals, if need be. Free consultations for all new cases.