When Can a Person Be Charged with Vehicular Manslaughter in Texas?
What Is Vehicular Manslaughter?
If you’ve been charged with vehicular manslaughter, you are likely anxious about your future, overwhelmed, and unsure of what you need to do to safeguard your future. At Whalen Law Office, our criminal defense attorneys understand that you are overwhelmed and are ready to help you through this difficult time. The state of Texas does not have a specific statute for vehicular manslaughter, however, any individual who causes the death of another person while violating a Texas traffic law in a reckless manner can be charged with vehicular manslaughter. The most common violations that result in vehicular manslaughter charges include racing on a highway, driving with a suspended license, reckless driving, and DWI. Vehicular manslaughter is described in the Texas Penal Code, Section 19.04, and the Texas Transportation Code, Section 545.401.
Causing the death of another person by operating a vehicle can also be charged as criminally negligent homicide. If you’ve been charged with vehicular manslaughter, you must take the charges very seriously. Having a highly experienced criminal defense attorney from Whalen Law Office as your advocate throughout the process will ensure the best outcome possible. This is not a time when you want to leave your future to chance—attorneys James Whalen and Ryne Sandel are ready to help you through this difficult time.
When Can a Person Be Charged for Vehicular Manslaughter in Texas?
There are several different scenarios where you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter in Texas, including:
- DWI manslaughter–If you cause the death of another person while you are intoxicated—and driving—you will be charged with DWI as well as vehicular manslaughter. You will face second-degree felony charges for this crime unless the person killed in the DWI accident was a peace officer, firefighter, or EMS personnel, then your charges will be bumped up to a first-degree felony. If convicted, your sentence could range from two to twenty years in prison and you could be assessed a fine as high as $10,000.
- Racing on a Highway—If an individual was killed or seriously injured because you were racing on the highway, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Racing on the highway can include a vehicle race, a vehicle contest or speed competition, a drag rage, an acceleration contest, a test of the physical endurance of the vehicle operator, or a drag race or exhibition with the goal of setting a speed record. If charged with racing on the highway that caused serious injury or death, you will face second-degree felony charges. If convicted of these charges, your sentence could range from two to twenty years in prison, and you could be assessed a fine as large as $10,000.
- Driving on a Suspended License—If you cause the death of another person while driving on a suspended license with no vehicle liability insurance, you will face Class A misdemeanor charges. If convicted, you could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and you could be assessed a fine as large as $4,000.
- Reckless Driving—If you cause the death of another person while driving recklessly, you will be charged with a second-degree felony. If convicted, you could face a prison sentence ranging from two to twenty years and could be assessed a fine as large as $10,000. The term “reckless driving” has a rather broad definition that describes it as driving a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Reckless driving can include significantly exceeding the speed limit, driving while under the influence, weaving in and out of traffic, driving the wrong way, failing to yield, running a stop sign, failing to stop for a school bus, and attempting to “beat” a yellow light.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney from Whalen Law Office Help?
If you are facing Texas charges of vehicular manslaughter, both your freedom and your future are in peril. It is essential that you have an experienced, highly-skilled criminal defense attorney who will aggressively defend you against these charges. Unlike most Texas criminal defense firms, the Whalen Law Office defends both federal and state criminal charges.
While we are based in Frisco, Texas, we take federal and state criminal cases across the state of Texas in the following counties; Collin, Denton, Grayson, Anderson, Henderson, Smith, Van Zandt, Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall, and Tarrant. We also take cases nationally, at the trial level and the appellate level. If you are facing serious criminal allegations, you need a serious criminal defense attorney whose entire focus is ensuring you receive a vigorous, professional defense. Attorneys James Whalen and Ryne Sandel are ready to represent your best interests while protecting your rights and your future. Contact Whalen Law Office today.