The worst possible outcome to result from a traffic accident is death no doubt. Of course, most drivers don’t plan on getting into a traffic accident in the first place. However, even if death was unintentional, a driver can still be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Whether it was a text sent at the wrong time or alcohol factors, vehicular manslaughter is categorized as a felony offense. The offense is attributed to the driver’s display of negligence or reckless behavior. In Texas, a vehicular manslaughter charge can result in a person being sentenced to decades in prison and ordered to pay staggering fines.
People are typically arrested for vehicular manslaughter after law enforcement agencies have conducted investigations and collected their evidence. Additionally, a driver drunk at the time of the accident resulting in death can be charged with intoxication manslaughter. An intoxication manslaughter offense has its own set of punishments according to driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws. You will need a vehicular manslaughter defense lawyer if you are charged with either vehicular manslaughter or intoxication manslaughter in the state of Texas.
Lawyers for Vehicular Manslaughter Defense in Houston, TX
If you were arrested or you think that you could be under investigation for vehicular manslaughter in Southeast Texas, it is in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have legal representation. The Gonzalez Law Group aggressively defends clients accused of criminal homicide offenses in communities throughout Harris County, Friendswood, Pearland, Seabrook, League City, Deer Park, Pasadena, La Porte, Galena Park, Baytown and many others.
Our criminal defense attorneys in Houston will fight to help you achieve the most favorable outcome to your case that results in the fewest possible consequences. You can have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (832) 530-4070 to receive a free initial consultation.
Overview of Harris County Vehicular Manslaughter
- Vehicular Manslaughter Charges in Texas
- Vehicular Manslaughter Penalties in Texas
- Harris County Vehicular Manslaughter Resources
Vehicular Manslaughter Charges in Texas
A person commits the crime of manslaughter under Texas Penal Code § 19.04 if he or she recklessly causes the death of an individual. This differs from the criminal offense of murder, in which a person intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual.
Texas Penal Code § 6.02 establishes that a person cannot be convicted of a criminal offense unless he or she intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence engages in conduct as the definition of the offense requires. Under Texas Penal Code § 6.03(c), a person acts recklessly, or is reckless, with respect to circumstances surrounding his or her conduct or the result of his or her conduct when he or she is aware of but consciously disregards 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 its disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from his or her standpoint.
While intoxication manslaughter is one of the most common examples of reckless conduct, other common examples of driver behavior that may be deemed reckless by prosecutors include, but are not limited to:
- Texting while driving
- Other kinds of distracted driving
- Racing on a highway
- Failure to obey traffic signs or signals
- Illegal passing
Vehicular Manslaughter Penalties in Texas
Manslaughter in Texas is a second-degree felony. A conviction is punishable by a minimum of two years up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
It is important to keep in mind that a prosecutor handling a vehicular manslaughter case will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an alleged offender was aware of but consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk. A person may be able to argue that he or she was unaware of such risks and instead should have been charged with criminally negligent homicide for causing a death by criminal negligence.
Texas Penal Code § 6.03(d) states that a person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his or her conduct or the result of his or her conduct when he or she 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 alleged offender’s standpoint.
Criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony punishable by up to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. In some cases, vehicular manslaughter charges may be entirely dismissed when there is a lack of evidence that an alleged offender operated recklessly.
Harris County Vehicular Manslaughter Resources
Texas Penal Code | Chapter 6. Culpability Generally — View the full text of the Texas state laws governing culpability in criminal cases. You can read the complete definitions of intentional, knowing, reckless, and criminal negligence. You can also find additional information relating to causation as it relates to conduct and results.
Queeman v. State, 520 S.W.3d 616, 622 (Tex. Crim. App. 2017) — Robert Alan Queeman was charged in a two-count indictment with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, and a jury acquitted him of the former but found him guilty of the latter. The Fourth Court of Appeals reversed the jury’s verdict of guilt after finding that the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain the conviction. On June 14, 2017, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the Court of Appeals decision, ruling that “the evidence presented at trial does not show that appellant’s failure to maintain a safe driving speed and keep a proper distance from other vehicles was a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary driver would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from appellant’s standpoint at the time of his conduct.”
Vehicular Manslaughter Defense Attorneys in Houston, TX
Do you believe that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for vehicular manslaughter in Harris County? You should make sure you contact The Gonzalez Law Group before saying anything to authorities.
Our experienced Houston criminal defense lawyers represent clients near Harris County, including the cities of Friendswood, Houston, Pearland, Seabrook, League City, Deer Park, Pasadena, La Porte, Galena Park, and Baytown. Call (832) 530-4070 or submit an online contact form to have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.