If you are involved in an accident resulting in a death, you could be facing a charge of vehicular Manslaughter. What are the penalties in Texas for this offense? How can you dispute the charges if you think you are not at fault?
Get the Help of a Criminal Attorney
If you are facing charges of vehicular manslaughter in Texas, you should call a criminal defense attorney absolutely as soon as possible. Once your attorney has reviewed the facts of your case, he can recommend the next course of action. You should work with an attorney that has experience dealing with the prosecution and justice system of the courts you will be facing.
The Texas board certified criminal defense attorneys at The Dick Law Firm in Georgetown Texas have over 35 years of combined experience as prosecutors as well as defense attorneys. They have handled cases from both sides of the aisle and are intimate with the Williamson County Justice System. They can provide you with the best possible outcome of your case.
Definition of Vehicular Manslaughter in Texas
Vehicular manslaughter is the crime of causing an involuntary death to another human being as a result of the illegal operation of a vehicle, including driving while intoxicated (DWI), speeding (racing), reckless driving and gross negligence.
Penalties for Vehicular Manslaughter
Penalties for vehicular manslaughter in Texas can vary depending on the circumstances. Generally a person accused of this crime involving reckless operation of a motor vehicle or driving while under the influence (DWI/DUI), will be facing a second degree felony charge, punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $10,000. If you are found to be driving while under the influence and the death involved EMS personnel, a firefighter or peace officer, the charge can be a first degree felony, punishable by 5 years to life imprisonment.
Vehicular manslaughter can be classified as a Class A misdemeanor —less serious offense carrying penalties of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. This would involve causing a death while driving with a suspended or invalid license.
Texas Penal codes also specify criminal negligent vehicular homicide. This would be considered a second degree felony charge with the corresponding penalties.
Many times the conviction of vehicular and criminally negligent homicide depends on subjective analysis of the facts surrounding the accident. Could the accident have been prevented? In the case of a DWI/DUI, would the accident have been unavoidable regardless of the involvement of alcohol? Criminal negligence has to be determined. This is the definition of criminal negligence from the Texas Penal Code:
"A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor's standpoint."
As you can see, proving criminal negligence involves subjective reasoning and interpretation of the events of the accident. A reputable and experienced defense attorney should review the facts of the case with you and determine the best way to approach your defense based on the facts of the case. Don't hesitate to hire the best attorney available to you.