Federal and Texas Intoxication Manslaughter Attorney
If you’ve been charged by the state of Texas, or federally with intoxication manslaughter, these are very serious charges with very serious penalties. The penalties for these charges can alter your life forever. It is essential that you speak to an intoxication manslaughter attorney who can potentially help you have your charges reduced, your penalties lessened, or your charges dropped altogether. This is a time when you could benefit greatly from having an experienced intoxication manslaughter attorney from Whalen Law Office by your side to address your charges, analyze the evidence, and determine your best course of action.
What is Intoxication Manslaughter?
When an intoxicated driver kills someone by accident, the offense is called intoxication manslaughter in the state of Texas. This offense encompasses not only a motor vehicle, but also an aircraft, a watercraft, and even an amusement ride when the operator has a blood alcohol content greater than or equal to 0.08 percent and the intoxication level is the cause of the death of another by accident or mistake. The law under which Texas intoxication manslaughter is charged is Texas Penal Code Section 49.08.
Under this law, intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony, unless the offense is enhanced. If the offender caused the death of a judge, peace officer, EMT or EMS worker, or firefighter while that person was working in his or her official capacity, the charges could be enhanced and bumped up to a first-degree felony. Vehicular manslaughter and intoxication manslaughter are similar, but intoxication manslaughter occurs when the driver is driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol rather than simply being a reckless driver.
If your offense of intoxication manslaughter occurred on a federal property—like a military base, a national park, an airport, a government compound, a national monument, or a post office, then you could potentially be charged under federal laws. Under federal law, the penalty for involuntary manslaughter is a maximum of six years. It’s important to speak to an attorney who is well-versed in federal charges from Whalen Law Office. We can determine the federal charges you are facing and the potential penalties for those charges. Unlike many criminal defense firms, our firm routinely handles federal cases for our clients.
Facts and Statistics Regarding Intoxication Manslaughter
According to idrivesafely.com, there were 25,261 drunk driving crashes in Texas in 2021, resulting in 1,029 deaths, or one death every 8.5 hours. Another 2,522 people suffered severe injuries from these drunk driving crashes. Overall, there was a 9 percent increase in DUI-related car crashes as compared to 2020 statistics. While some of these deaths resulting from impaired driving may have resulted in intoxication manslaughter charges, others did not, according to the individual circumstances.
What Are the Potential Penalties for Intoxication Manslaughter?
If your intoxication manslaughter offense is charged as a second-degree felony in the state of Texas, you are facing up to 20 years in prison and fines as large as $10,000. A first-degree felony for an enhanced charge of intoxication manslaughter can result in up to 99 years in prison and fines as large as $10,000. In the state of Texas, an intoxication manslaughter conviction can result in a two-year driver’s license suspension. You could also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle at your expense. Additional penalties can include 1,000 hours of community service and/or completion of an approved alcohol or drug program. If more than one person is killed in an accident, the penalties can increase. There are also social consequences of being convicted—or even charged—with intoxication manslaughter, such as:
- Damage to your reputation
- The loss of your job, or difficulty obtaining employment
- Difficulty renting a home
- An inability to obtain a professional certification
Are There Defenses to Intoxication Manslaughter?
If you are facing intoxication manslaughter charges, your specific defense will depend on the facts and circumstances surrounding your charges. Your intoxication manslaughter attorney from Whalen Law Office will determine the best defense strategy to achieve a positive outcome. Some of the more common defenses to intoxication manslaughter include:
- The sobriety tests were flawed. Perhaps you were given a Breathalyzer test or a blood test to determine your BAC following your accident. There are many instances in which these tests may be inaccurate or invalid. Your attorney may be able to establish reasonable doubt by showing the test or tests administered to you were not valid and that your accident was just that—an accident.
- Your attorney may be able to show that the death was not directly related to intoxication. Perhaps you were distracted or committed a traffic violation or were exhibiting unsafe driving in other ways. With sufficient evidence and the right argument, your attorney may be able to show that the accident would have occurred regardless of your BAC level.
- You did not act in any manner that a reasonable person, given the same set of circumstances, would have done. The prosecutor will be attempting to show that you either failed to do something that a reasonable person would have done, given similar circumstances, or that you did something a reasonable person would not have done in the same circumstances. If your actions were reasonable, then you were not negligent, and your charges may be reduced to just a DUI.
- Your actions did not cause the death of another person. The prosecution must show beyond a reasonable doubt, a causal link between your actions and the death. There may be many variables in your accident, many of which could have contributed to the accident and thus the death.
- The police failed to follow proper procedure. Perhaps your vehicle was searched without a valid reason or a warrant. There must have been enough probable cause to search your vehicle, even though you were involved in an accident. Any evidence that was not lawfully obtained may end up being thrown out by the judge.
- Your Miranda rights were violated following your arrest. You may have asked for an attorney and were denied that right. If so, then your rights were violated.
How Can I Choose the Right Criminal Defense Attorney?
Choosing a criminal defense attorney following charges of intoxication manslaughter is one of the most important things you will do. Your choice of attorney can literally make the difference between time spent behind bars or lowered charges that result in much more lenient penalties. You should be as thorough as possible in your quest to choose the best criminal defense attorney, but you should also know that the sooner you have an attorney on board, the better your chances of a good outcome will be. Facing criminal charges that could remove your freedom and alter your life is daunting, to say the least. Complicating the matter is the fact that our criminal justice system is complex. You may get a referral for a criminal defense attorney from a friend or family member, or perhaps you will look online or contact the Texas State Bar Association. You should consider the following when choosing your intoxication manslaughter attorney:
- How experienced is the attorney in cases like yours? Attorneys who only practice criminal defense law are more likely to have the experience you need than attorneys who practice several types of law. Having an attorney who is experienced in federal cases as well as state and municipal cases is definitely a bonus, and a necessity if you are being charged federally. Does the attorney have a good success rate in cases like yours? When you are facing the consequences of intoxication manslaughter, you need an attorney with an impressive track record of success.
- Does the attorney have established relationships in the court systems as well as local connections? If your attorney knows all the “players” in your case—the judges and prosecutors, in particular—then they also know which judges and prosecutors are more likely to consider a plea bargain and which ones almost never agree to a plea bargain. Having this firsthand knowledge is crucial to the strength and success of your case.
- Did the attorney make you feel comfortable during your initial meeting? Did you get a sense that you could trust this person, and did they seem empathetic to your situation?
- Do you feel like the attorney will be available and accessible after you’ve signed on the dotted line? What you don’t want is an attorney who is never available when you have questions that need to be answered.
Fighting a criminal charge is not something you should ever leave to chance because the outcome of your case can change the rest of your life.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney from Whalen Law Office Help with Your Intoxication Manslaughter Charges?
Whether you are charged under federal laws or under Texas laws for intoxication manslaughter, it is crucial that you have a strong, skilled criminal defense attorney from Whalen Law Office by your side. We will be the advocate in your corner that you desperately need right now. We are highly experienced criminal defense attorneys who will fight for you every step of the way. We understand the serious nature of these charges, including the severity of the potential punishments. When you choose Whalen Law Office, you can be sure you have chosen the best attorney for your charges. Contact Whalen Law Office today.