Charged with DWI Manslaughter in Houston?
We’ve won these types of cases before. Call Tad Nelson for help. 713-489-7373.
If you’re seeking legal representation for an intoxication manslaughter case in Houston, you’ll certainly need legal advice from a qualified defense attorney. With an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side, you’ll have the advice you need to make right decision about how to address your criminal charges.
As a Texas DWI lawyer since 1995, I can tell you that any time you’re facing criminal charges related to the death of another person, the State of Texas relentless pursue a conviction. This is especially true for a person with an intoxicated manslaughter charge. Due to the number of deaths that occur in Texas as a result of drunk driving, the Texas Department of Transportation has taken an aggressive stance on the issue, result in many lawful and unlawful arrests of Texas motorists.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation;
One person in Texas dies every eight hours and 31 minutes in a DUI-alcohol related traffic crash. Last year (2021), 1,029 people in Texas were killed and 2,522 seriously injured because someone chose to get behind the wheel while impaired. Over last year’s spring break, Texas saw 872 DUI-alcohol related traffic crashes. These crashes resulted in 30 fatalities and 107 serious injuries.
As you can see from the TXDOT’s press release in May of 2022, there are many incidents involving drunk driving related injuries and deaths on the roadways. Many fair minded people may assume that the at-fault party in these cases are drunk drivers, guilty as charged.
However, as an experienced criminal defense attorney with nearly 30 years of experience defending people, I can you tell that a large number of the individuals assumed as guilty of DWI manslaughter, are not. In fact, if you consult an aggressive defense lawyer about these cases, you’ll find that numerous alleged drunk drivers weren’t the cause of the accident, and were not at fault for any person’s death.
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for intoxication manslaughter, don’t panic. With our legal team in your corner, you’ll be afforded sound legal advice as we investigate your case, evidence, interview eyewitnesses, and develop a strategy for your defense.
Although heartbreaking for all parties involved, Intoxication Manslaughter charges can be beat. This is a fact.
Understanding Criminal Charges of Intoxication Manslaughter
Intoxication Manslaughter is a serious criminal offense in Texas which often results in defendants serving extremely long periods in prison if they’re convicted. Our law firm has extensive experience helping Texans with DWI cases, and we’re among the few law firms in Houston that have successfully defended individuals arrested in connection with DUI manslaughter, intoxication manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, and criminally negligent homicide.
Often referred to as either DWI manslaughter or DUI manslaughter, this criminal offense occurs when a person is killed as a result of a motorist operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol. The person operating the offending vehicle will be subject to the associated criminal charges. Intoxication manslaughter occurs when either a passenger in the offending vehicle or any party outside of the offending vehicle are killed as a result of drunk driving.
Chapter 49 of Title 10 of the Texas Penal Code Section 49.08 & 49.07
Sec. 49.08. INTOXICATION MANSLAUGHTER.
a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) operates a motor vehicle in a public place, operates an aircraft, a watercraft, or an amusement ride, or assembles a mobile amusement ride; and
(2) is intoxicated and by reason of that intoxication causes the death of another by accident or mistake.
b) Except as provided by Section 49.09, an offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.
Texas law classifies intoxication manslaughter as a second-degree felony, but there are circumstances which can result in a first-degree felony enhancement of the criminal charges.
Intoxication assault another of the DWI-related criminal offenses which carry felony charges. This offense occurs if a person suffers serious bodily injury as a result of a harm caused by an intoxicated driver or a person operating another type of motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Sec. 49.07. INTOXICATION ASSAULT.
a) A person commits an offense if the person, by accident or mistake:
1. while operating an aircraft, watercraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated, or while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another; or
2. as a result of assembling a mobile amusement ride while intoxicated causes serious bodily injury to another.
b) In this section, “serious bodily injury” means injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
c) Except as provided by Section 49.09, an offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.
Vehicular manslaughter is similar to intoxication manslaughter, but lacks the intoxication component. This is form of criminally negligent homicide but is defined as manslaughter under Texas law. If a person’s death was caused as a result of reckless behavior, the crime of manslaughter has occurred. This offense is classified as a second degree felony in the Texas Penal Code while criminally negligent homicide is classified as a state jail felony.
Chapter 19 of Title 5 of the Texas Penal Code Section 19.04 & 19.05
Sec. 19.04. MANSLAUGHTER.
a) A person commits an offense if he recklessly causes the death of an individual.
b) An offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.
Sec. 19.05. CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE.
a) A person commits an offense if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence.
b) An offense under this section is a state jail felony.
Penalties If Convicted of Intoxicated Manslaughter
Second Degree Felony Cases
Persons charged with Intoxicated Manslaughter, and convicted, face punishment under 2nd Degree Felony guidelines. However, in some cases, more serious punishment may be sought, and there are efforts underway to add a life imprisonment option to the justice toolkit.
Monetary Fines for a person convicted of intoxicated manslaughter, or a felony of the second degree, max-out at 10,000.00 in addition to prison sentencing guidelines that range from 2 to 20 years. If convicted, this time will be served in a Texas penitentiary operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
In Texas, a second-degree felony conviction for intoxication manslaughter, carries the following penalties;
- A fine of up to $10,000.00.
- A prison sentence ranging from two to twenty years.
- Hundreds of hours of community service.
- Texas Driver’s License Suspension for up to 180 days. (The driver’s license suspension will apply after any jail time is served.)
- The installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle in the future.
If more than one person was killed or suffered serious bodily injury, then multiple counts of intoxication manslaughter or intoxication assault charges will apply.
First Degree Felony Cases
There are specific situations where the State of Texas will increase the severity of the criminal charges from a second-degree felony to a first-degree felony. If the person killed as a result of driving while intoxicated was a emergency worker, peace officer, firefighter, or other first responder like an emergency medical technician or other civil servant in official discharge of their public duty, the offense will be enhanced to a first-degree felony.
In Texas, a first-degree felony conviction, carries the following penalties;
- A fine of up to $10,000.00.
- A prison sentence ranging from five to ninety-nine years.
- Hundreds of hours of community service.
- Texas Driver License Suspension for up 180 days. (The driver’s license suspension will apply after any jail time is served.)
- The installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle in the future.
If you’re facing prosecution for charges of intoxication manslaughter and are subsequently convicted, there are numerous other consequences which may affect you for the rest of your life. With a conviction for such an offense on your criminal record, your professional life and relationships could affected along with your ability to choose where you live. If you’re facing felony intoxication manslaughter charges in Houston, it’s in your best interest to contact Attorney Tad A. Nelson or another equally experienced Houston DWI defense attorney as soon as possible.
Special Note for General Information Purposes: In Texas, intoxication manslaughter charges may apply to operators of motor vehicles, boats, aircraft, and can even apply to a person operating an amusement park ride. If the intoxicated person is operating any type of motor vehicle and a death or serious injury occurs, the criminal offense of intoxication manslaughter or intoxication assault has occurred.
Possible Defenses & Legal Strategies
Challenging Field Sobriety Tests
Often, during our investigations in preparation for the defense of our clients, we find certain irregularities regularly. Sometimes, the field sobriety test can improperly calculate the blood alcohol concentration of the alleged drunk driver.
This could occur as a result of
- the breathalyzer test machine being improperly calibrated,
- calibrated by untrained personnel,
- or used by a law enforcement officer that hasn’t received proper training with the device.
As a result, the results indicating your blood alcohol content could be inaccurate, rendering the test results inadmissible in a court of law.
Challenging Blood Test Results
If a police officer can show probably cause to a judge or magistrate, they may ask for a blood warrant to draw a blood sample to develop evidence that you were operating a motor vehicle while over the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration. With this evidence, there’s nothing to stop the district attorneys office from prosecuting you to the fullest extent of the law. However, Attorney Tad A. Nelson is one of the foremost experts in challenging the validity and integrity of blood samples collected by law enforcement. Listed below are the most common reasons we’ve had blood sample evidence thrown out of court.
- Improper or faulty blood testing procedures.
- A law enforcement officer giving inaccurate statements about evidence in court.
- Police officers failing to include critical information in the application for a blood warrant.
- Improper storage of blood samples.
- Chain of command violations. If officers didn’t follow the proper chain of command when managing the evidence in your case, we can ask the court to throw it out of court, or in other words, rule it inadmissible.
If we can get the evidence ruled as inadmissible and thrown out of court, the district attorney’s office will have to fight an uphill battle to secure a DWI conviction. Often, when the evidence is removed from an intoxication manslaughter case, it falls apart and results in a case dismissal. Due to the seriousness of an intoxication manslaughter charge, it’s crucial to have the right lawyer that understands the rules of evidence and the chemical nature of said evidence.
Attorney Tad Nelson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is also one of a handful of ACS/CHAL Lawyer-Scientists in the Houston area. He also holds a degree in forensic science. If there’s any lawyer that knows what it takes to successfully challenge blood evidence in court, it’s Tad Nelson.
Argue Intoxication Didn’t Cause the Accident
What if you were driving drunk, but a sober driver ran a red light, collided with your vehicle and died as a result?
What if someone was speeding or not paying attention and rear-ended you?
If we can prove that you weren’t the cause of the accident with either camera footage or eyewitness testimony, that’s enough reasonable doubt to get your case dismissed. However, you may still have to contend with a misdemeanor DWI charge.
Prove You Were Not Intoxicated
Texas Law (Chapter 49 of Title 10) defines intoxication as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. This can also include prescription drugs.
In order for the state to gain a conviction for DWI manslaughter, they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that intoxication was the cause of the accident. If we’re successful in challenging the evidence in your case, the DA’s office won’t be able to prove you were intoxicated. Then, we’ll have an easier time winning during trial or getting a pre-trial case dismissal.
Argue Your Constitutional Rights Were Violated
Texas drivers have rights and in addition to their inalienable rights under the Constitution of the United States. If you were pulled over by a police officer, they must respect and uphold your rights. In some cases, we fight that the defendant’s Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure or their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent was violated. If we can prove this, it gives us an option to declare any evidence obtained as unlawful and therefore inadmissible in court. The violation of the defendant’s rights can be proven by reviewing the police report, interviewing eyewitnesses, and reviewing any video evidence that we may obtain.
Regardless of the defense strategy we deploy for your criminal charges, we have extensive experience successfully representing defendants charged with intoxication manslaughter and other felony offenses.
Establishing an Attorney-Client Relationship
If you’re ready to meet with Tad about your case, it’s important to understand the key components of an attorney-client relationship.
Number one is trust.
If we’re to establish a strong relationship we have to trust each other, listen to each other very carefully, and ensure that we both have a deep understanding of the options and how we can both work for the best possible outcome in your case.
Number two is understanding the law.
Often, the law can be confusing for individuals who aren’t legal professionals. Our job as your legal team is ensure that you have a deep understanding of the law as it applies to your case, and how we may take advantage of it to serve your best interests. Our job is also to answer any questions you may have and to minimize your stress factor. We take great pride is developing healthy relationships with our clients and in our ability to make the law easier to understand.
Number three is being open-minded.
Each attorney-client relationship is different. If we’re both open-minded and ready to embrace each other’s perspectives and viewpoints, it’ll help the fluidity of our communication which will be a great benefit to your case. This way, if we have questions or concerns on either end of the spectrum, we come together for a quick resolution. Fear is driven by confusion and a lack of understanding. We’ll make sure you understand everything that’s going on with your case.
Facing Criminal Charges for Intoxication Manslaughter?
Attorney Tad A. Nelson Can Help You.
One our office is retained, Tad Nelson will listen to you, and carefully go over the details of your case, and keep you aware of all finding during our own investigation.
During the course of our investigation a determination will be made as to whether the evidence used to determine your intoxication is valid, and if your rights were violated by law enforcement at the time of the incident and subsequent arrest. A conviction for a 2nd Degree Felony will destabilize your life and ultimately ruin your career.
Tad Nelson understands this.
We’re Highly Trained Attorneys
Our highly trained legal team consists of a Board Certified® criminal lawyer, two forensic scientists; with one having a Master’s Degree in forensic science, and a team of expert witnesses and investigators that’s rivaled by few law firms in Texas, if any.
When we take on a case we go through an extensive process of crafting a strategy that will work to serve the better good of the defendant, demonstrate the strength of the DUI Defense Bar, and keep you free.
Founding attorney Tad Nelson is a former assistant district attorney who is well aware of the schemes perpetrated by prosecutors who are looking to pad their stats at the expense of your good name.
We Fight Criminal Charges Throughout The Houston Area
We’re ready to meet with you, discuss your situation, and spearhead a strong push to clear your name. We provide legal representation for individuals throughout the Greater Houston area. Whether your case is on a court docket in Harris County, Montgomery County, Galveston County, Fort Bend County, or elsewhere in Southeast Texas, you can rely on Attorney Tad A. Nelson to give you the best chance for the best possible outcome for your case. DWI charges are serious charges in the State of Texas. If you need our help, contact our law office today to schedule your free initial consultation with a criminal defense lawyer.