Intoxication Manslaughter Lawyer in Austin, Temple, or Georgetown Texas

Getting charged with intoxication manslaughter is serious, which is why you need aggressive representation as soon as possible from a defense attorney, specifically an intoxication manslaughter lawyer that can help you fight your charge.

This type of charge comes with years of potential prison time and being accused of such a crime can stir a variety of emotions. You need to take steps immediately to protect your rights.

Do not give any statements to law enforcement without the presence of an attorney. Instead, find an intoxication manslaughter lawyer with the right experience. Eric Harron has been handling intoxication manslaughter charges for over 15 years. Call (512) 963-8855 to get the experienced representation you need..

Below you will find additional information about the intoxication manslaughter charge you are facing in Texas.

Intoxication Manslaughter in Texas

In Texas, Intoxication Manslaughter is when an individual is intoxicated and is involved in an accident that takes the life of another person. Simply explained it is when you are driving while intoxicated and cause a death.

Commonly the victim of intoxication manslaughter is someone driving another vehicle or a pedestrian. However, it is not unusual that the victim is a passenger of the intoxicated person. Meaning, the intoxicated person caused an accident or hit a parked car or structure and their passenger died as a result.

What Counts as “Intoxicated”?

Intoxicated means not having the normal use of your mental or physical facilities due to the introduction of alcohol, a drug, or a combination of both alcohol and drugs; or, if intoxicated from alcohol alone, then having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more. This means you are legally intoxicated even if you still had the normal use of your mental and physical facilities.

Explained further, if you have lost the normal use of your mental facilities alone, the state can bring a case against you. This means you look normal and can keep your balance but that you are not making sense when talking to officers. With this alone the state can try to prove an intoxication offense against you.

Another way a case can be brought against you is if you sound normal and can answer questions logically but cannot walk or balance well.

Finally,, if you can keep your balance and can answer questions logically, but through a breath or blood test the state can prove that your alcohol concentration was over .08, then prosecutors can still consider you intoxicated. This is because the legislature has passed a law that says if you are over .08 then you are too intoxicated to drive regardless of how the alcohol affects you.

Manslaughter vs. Intoxication Manslaughter: What’s the Difference?

Manslaughter is when a person recklessly causes the death of an individual. With Intoxication manslaughter, a person operates a vehicle in a public place, is intoxicated, and that intoxication causes the death of another.

We have had cases that start as an intoxication manslaughter charge where the prosecutor changes the charge to regular manslaughter. This happens in situations where a prosecutor may have evidentiary problems proving intoxication, but there are really bad driving facts involved. This could involve an extremely high rate of speed or driving the wrong way on a road.

Can I Beat an Intoxication Manslaughter Case?

The short answer is yes, but a criminal case is not so black and white. First, be aware that it is possible to have a case dismissed or obtain a not guilty verdict on any criminal charge and intoxication manslaughter is no different. The state must prove each and every element of the charge beyond any reasonable doubt. This is a very high burden.

A jury that is pretty sure someone is guilty does not cut it, it must be proven beyond any reasonable doubt that you are guilty.The burden of proof requires a clear and convincing evidentiary standard. To be convicted of intoxication manslaughter the state must prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that you are guilty of each element of intoxication manslaughter. Again, this is the highest level of proof required in any court.

Common defenses to Intoxication Manslaughter include:

  • Not operating the vehicle. The state may not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt you were behind the wheel.
  • Not intoxicated. The state has to prove you were intoxicated at the time you were operating the vehicle. It does not matter if you were intoxicated before you were operating the vehicle or after you were operating the vehicle. What matters is intoxication while operating the vehicle. This is an important distinction in these types of cases.

Frequently there are injuries involved that prevent standardized field sobriety tests. Also, blood samples may not be taken until significantly after an accident. Intoxication is always a major issue in these cases. How and when blood samples were taken can present major hurdles for the prosecution to overcome.

Find the help you need to create a solid defense for your case; don’t wait to get representation. Call (512) 963-8855 for a consultation and the representation you need to fight your case.

What Happens if You are Convicted of Intoxication Manslaughter?

The punishment is determined in one of three ways. The first, and the most common way, is through a negotiated plea with the district attorney handling the case. This is essentially an agreement between the district attorney and the defense attorney representing the person charged. The judge will still have to sign off on the plea bargain.

The second way is through jury sentencing. This is done after a trial on the merits of the case. Jury sentencing can also be done after a guilty plea directly to a jury. This is typically done when the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney cannot reach an agreement and decide to let the public decide the outcome after a presentation of the evidence and mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

The third method is for a judge to determine sentencing. This can be done through an “open plea” or after a trial on the merits. An open plea is where the defendant pleads guilty to the court, but does not have a plea bargain in place. Meaning the judge will decide how many years is appropriate to send the person to prison. This method still involves having witnesses testify as to relevant facts in the case and as to what kind of person the defendant is.

Things taken into account for sentencing for any of the above situations:

  • Criminal history of the accused
  • The level of intoxication of the accused
  • The circumstances of the accident
  • The relationship to the accused (passenger or innocent third party)
  • Conduct of the defendant after the accident such as treatment or community service
  • Conduct or actions on the part of the victim

Intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony. The sentencing range is from two to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Probation is an option for intoxication manslaughter. But, probation can be difficult to obtain if the accused is found guilty.

Do what you can to prevent this with the right representation. Call (512) 963-8855 for a consultation about your case.

Does the Judge Have to Follow a Plea Bargain?

No, surprisingly the judge does not have to follow a plea bargain. When a judge does not follow a plea agreement, it is what is commonly referred to as “busting a plea bargain”. This is where a judge will look at the circumstances and say, I think this deal is too lenient and I’m not going to allow it.

This is why it is important to have a knowledgeable defense attorney who is familiar with the judge you are in front of. They should know the likelihood of this happening and what type of evidence the judge will want to see at a sentencing hearing.

Do the Victim’s Friends and Family Get Their Say in Court?

Yes. If a negotiated plea is reached with the district attorney, the prosecutor is legally obligated to inform the victim’s family of the plea bargain.

While their duty is merely to inform the victim’s family, prosecutors typically will let the victim’s family have input on what an appropriate sentence will be. At the time of sentencing there may be what is called an allocution. This is where the victim’s friends and family come to speak directly to the defendant from the witness stand after sentencing is imposed.

One of the purposes of this is to aid in the healing process for the victims. While allocutions occur after the sentence is imposed and do not affect the outcome of a case, they are often heart wrenching to watch for the defendant and their family.

If the sentence is decided by judge or jury, the victim’s family and friends will testify under oath with the goal to impact the severity of the sentence.

My Blood was Taken. Can it be Used Against Me?

This involves a complex analysis of just how the blood was drawn and later tested and stored. If the blood was drawn as part of medical treatment for you, then the prosecutor can likely get this into evidence through your medical records. In the event the blood was drawn as preparation for criminal prosecution, then the police would need a warrant or your consent to draw your blood.

In this type of blood draw, the prosecution will have to be able to call as witnesses the person who drew the blood as well as the person who tested the blood. While blood tests may seem black and white, there are actually many different things that can go wrong to produce false readings in blood tests. Here are a few examples.

  • Was the injection site first sterilized with an alcohol swab? This can produce a false positive for alcohol.
  • How was the blood stored prior to testing? It is not uncommon for blood samples to sit for three to six months prior to testing. There must be refrigeration logs and other chain of custody documents to ensure the blood is still in a form that can produce an accurate test result.
  • Was a second sample drawn to allow a test from an independent lab? Samples tested by independent labs could potentially produce a very different result.

In sum, a blood test can potentially be used against you in an intoxication manslaughter case, but there are numerous tools a competent defense attorney can use to exclude the sample – or at least minimize its persuasion – on a jury in an intoxication manslaughter case.

Will I Have to Serve a Prison Sentence for an Intoxication Manslaughter Conviction?

The answer to this question is actually very complicated and greatly depends on the sentence your defense attorney was able to obtain for you. Many details can impact the actual time served of a prison sentence imposed. For example, If a deadly weapon is alleged in your indictment you will have to serve one-half of your sentence before being eligible for parole.

While people typically think of guns and knives as deadly weapons, with an intoxication manslaughter charge it is the vehicle that is alleged to be the deadly weapon. With no deadly weapon finding, you will be eligible for parole much sooner.

Frequently people sentenced are parole eligible as early as after twenty percent of their time served. This is dependent on how much good time credit (also considered good behavior credit) is earned. When you actually get paroled depends on Texas Department of Criminal Justice parole policies in place at the time your case is reviewed.

Why Do I Have to Get an Ignition Interlock Device, Portable Alcohol Monitor, or SCRAM Device?

As a condition of your pretrial release for intoxication manslaughter, the magistrate, or later presiding judge, will likely order that you are not to consume alcohol while out on bond. They verify this through a variety of ways, including the following:

  • Ignition Interlock device: This is the least restrictive device, which is placed on your vehicle. This prevents you from operating your car if you have any alcohol in your system.
  • PAM device: This is a slightly more restrictive device and is like a portable alcohol monitor; it is similar to the ignition interlock device, but not connected to a vehicle.
    • The court will assign you windows of time you have to blow into the PAM. Even if you have not been drinking, if you fail to blow in the device when you are supposed to, the judge might try to revoke your bond.
  • SCRAM device or SCRAM bracelet: SCRAM stands for secure continuous remote alcohol monitoring and is the most intrusive and expensive device. This is an ankle bracelet that monitors your sweat output continuously for alcohol. You are not allowed to remove the device and it is locked onto you.

A court can order one or all of these devices depending on your circumstances. If ordered to have any of these devices, it is extremely important to abstain from alcohol. It is also important to take care not to use any products that contain alcohol, such as mouth wash or cough syrup, as those can trigger a false positive for alcohol that can get you in trouble.

Will I Lose My Driver’s License?

In the event you refuse to provide a breath or blood sample, or have a sample that shows an alcohol concentration of greater than .08, Texas DPS will try to suspend your license.

The periods of suspension range from 3 months to two years depending on whether you refused to provide a breath or blood sample and whether or not this is your first or a subsequent accusation in the last ten years. This is known as an administrative license revocation or ALR for short. Your ALR suspension can be fought if you request a hearing on the matter within 15 days of the date of arrest.

You can also have your license suspended as part of a sentence in a criminal case. For example, through a plea bargain or after a trial, the criminal court judge can order a license suspension. These typically do not last longer than two years.

Often, these suspensions can also be run concurrently with an ALR suspension.This of course will minimize the actual amount of time your license is suspended.

For both types of license suspensions, your attorney may be able to obtain an occupational license for you that will allow you to drive to work or to perform household duties.

Why Do You Need an Intoxication Manslaughter Lawyer?

Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony with serious consequences that can have a huge impact on your day-to-day life. Rest easier knowing you have excellent and experienced representation with your best interests at heart.

Call (512) 963-8855 for a free consultation about your case.

Call for a Free Consultation Today

There are many different layers a lawyer should consider when defending against an intoxication manslaughter charge. Contact the Law Office of Eric Harron by calling (512) 963-8855 today or visiting one of our locations in Austin, Temple or Georgetown to have your specific questions answered and determine the best approach to defend against your specific charges.