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Texas Manslaughter Laws: What You Need To Know

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If you are suspected of manslaughter or have already been charged, you should know some important things about manslaughter charges in Texas. Most importantly, you should know that even though this charge is less severe than murder, your future rights and freedom are still at stake if you are facing manslaughter charges.

Criminal defense attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, defend clients who have been charged with crimes in Texas, including manslaughter. We know that criminal defense clients rely on our legal representation, and we will fight to protect your rights, your future, and your reputation. Keep reading to learn more about manslaughter charges in Texas.

Manslaughter Charges Are Not Murder Charges

In general, proving murder charges requires showing that the defendant intentionally or knowingly caused someone’s death or intentionally caused serious bodily injury with an act that was dangerous to human life resulting in death. You can also be convicted of murder under some circumstances if an attempt to commit a felony results in death.

Murder charges carry steep fines and penalties, including the possibility of spending life in prison. When prosecutors do not have the evidence to prove the knowledge or intent required for a murder conviction, they often turn to the reduced charge of manslaughter because it is generally easier to prove than murder.

Manslaughter Charges In Texas

In Texas, you can be charged with manslaughter or intoxication manslaughter. The first type requires proof that you recklessly caused someone’s death. Reckless is a subjective standard that requires demonstrating that a reasonable person would consider the defendant’s conduct that caused the victim’s death to be reckless.

Intoxication manslaughter involves operating an automobile, boat, or another dangerous vehicle while intoxicated, resulting in someone else’s death. A drunk driving accident that results in fatal injuries to a passenger or occupants of another automobile is the most common type of intoxication manslaughter.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

Criminally negligent homicide is another criminal charge that requires proving that the defendant negligently caused someone else’s death. The charge and consequences are not as severe as manslaughter or murder charges. Sometimes manslaughter charges are reduced to criminally negligent homicide during plea negotiations or when the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove that the defendant’s conduct was reckless.

Consequences Of A Manslaughter Conviction

Consequences of a manslaughter conviction include up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and court costs. You may also have to pay for the expenses necessary to carry out court orders, such as the cost of installing an ignition interlock device and court-ordered alcohol dependency classes. Intoxication manslaughter convictions can also result in license suspension.

Enhanced penalties may be imposed if you have prior convictions and other extenuating circumstances, such as one of the following scenarios:

  • The person who died was an on-duty first responder
  • You have a prior DWI conviction
  • You have prior intoxication manslaughter or intoxication assault convictions
  • There was a child under the age of 15 in your vehicle at the time of the accident
  • Your blood alcohol content was over .15 (twice the legal amount) at the time of the accident
  • You had an open container in the car

Defenses To Manslaughter Charges

You may be facing manslaughter charges, but that does not mean that you will be convicted, especially if you have a solid defense and experienced legal representation. Defenses to criminal charges include mistake of fact, duress, your conduct was not reckless, your actions did not cause the fatal injuries, and lack of evidence.

Even if you think the prosecutors have the evidence necessary for a conviction, that evidence may not be admissible if the police violated your constitutional rights. Evidence gathered in violation of your rights will generally be inadmissible at trial.

Common constitutional violations include illegal search and seizure and due process violations. For example, suppose that you made admissions against interest during a custodial police interrogation, and the police failed to read your Miranda rights. Your attorney would ask to have your admissions suppressed so that they cannot be used as evidence to support a conviction.

Reach Out To A Texas Manslaughter Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with manslaughter or another crime in Texas, a criminal defense attorney at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, can help. We will work vigorously to protect your rights and obtain the best result in your case. Contact us online or at 713-229-9992 to discuss your case.

Our attorneys have decades of experience handling Texas criminal law matters, and we can help you. Follow our Facebook page to learn more about our attorneys and the types of cases that we handle.

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