Under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.08, individuals commit intoxication manslaughter when they operate motor vehicles in public places while intoxicated and in doing so, cause the death of others by accident or mistake. Intoxication manslaughter also occurs when individuals cause the death of others as a result of operating aircraft, watercraft, or an amusement ride while intoxicated. Finally, individuals may commit this offense if they assemble a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated, which results in the death of others.
Intoxication manslaughter charges differ in severity from manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter charges. When you are facing those charges, the state is alleging that you caused the death of others due to some reckless behavior. However, intoxication manslaughter charges are based on allegations that you caused death by mistake or accident, not due to reckless or intentional conduct.
Another unique feature of intoxication manslaughter is that a conviction requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the death occurred as a result of your intoxicated status. The mere fact that you were involved in a fatal accident while you were intoxicated does not automatically lead to an intoxication manslaughter conviction. Instead, there must be a link between your intoxication and the resulting death.
Intoxication manslaughter generally is a second-degree felony offense. Individuals can face a prison sentence ranging from two to 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000 as a result of a second-degree felony conviction.
However, intoxication manslaughter is a first-degree felony offense if it results in the death of any of the following classes of people while in the commission of their official duties:
- Emergency medical services personnel
- Peace officers, or
An intoxication manslaughter conviction also can count as a prior offense to enhance the penalties for other DWI-related crimes. Therefore, if you have a previous conviction for intoxication manslaughter, you can face third-degree felony rather than misdemeanor charges for a subsequent DWI offense. Facing a felony rather than a misdemeanor DWI charge can result in far more severe penalties if convicted.
The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the cases of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. As a result, we will strive to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 399-2311 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys.