Experienced DWI Defense Serving North Texas

Defending an Intoxication Manslaughter Case in Texas

Intoxication Manslaughter and Intoxication Assault are 2 of the most emotional and difficult types of cases to be charged with and to defend.

Intoxication Assault is defined in Texas Penal Code §49.07.

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.

In essence, the State has to prove the following elements:

  • A person
  • By accident or mistake
  • Operated a motor vehicle
  • In a public place
  • While intoxicated
  • By reason of that intoxication caused serious bodily injury to another.

Intoxication Manslaughter is defined in Texas Penal code §49.08.

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 490.09 an offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.

The State has to prove the following elements:

  • A person
  • Operated a motor vehicle
  • In a public place
  • While intoxicated
  • By reason of that intoxication caused the death of another by accident or mistake.

Texas Penal Code §49.09 sets out various enhancements for intoxication-related offenses. For §49.07 and §49.08, the following enhancements are available:

(b-1) An offense under Section 49.07 is:

(1) a felony of the second degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person caused serious bodily injury to a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel while in the actual discharge of an official duty; or

(2) a felony of the first degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person caused serious bodily injury to a peace officer or judge while the officer or judge was in the actual discharge of an official duty.

(b-2) An offense under Section 49.08 is a felony of the first degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person caused the death of a person described by Subsection (b-1).

(b-3) For the purposes of Subsection (b-1):

(1) "Emergency medical services personnel" has the meaning assigned by Section 773.003, Health and Safety Code.

(2) "Firefighter" means:

(A) an individual employed by this state or by a political or legal subdivision of this state who is subject to certification by the Texas Commission on Fire Protection; or

(B) a member of an organized volunteer fire-fighting unit that:

(i) renders fire-fighting services without remuneration; and

(ii) conducts a minimum of two drills each month, each at least two hours long.

(b-4) An offense under Section 49.07 is a felony of the second degree if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the person caused serious bodily injury to another in the nature of a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state.

Intoxication Assault is a 3rd Degree Felony UNLESS:

  • Intoxication Assault can be enhanced to a 1st Degree Felony if the person injured was a peace officer or judge who was in the actual discharge of official duties
  • Intoxication Assault can be enhanced to a 2nd Degree Felony if the person injured was a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel who was in the actual discharge of official duties
  • Intoxication Assault can be enhanced to a 2nd Degree Felony if the person injured suffered a traumatic brain injury that left them in a persistent vegetative state

Intoxication Manslaughter is a 2nd Degree Felony UNLESS:

  • Intoxication Manslaughter can be enhanced to a 1st Degree Felony if the person injured was a peace officer or judge who was in the actual discharge of official duties
  • Intoxication Manslaughter can be enhanced to a 1st Degree Felony if the person injured was a firefighter or emergency medical services personnel who was in the actual discharge of official duties

Depending on the circumstances of the case, your attorney may focus on one of the following:

  1. Challenging causation
  2. Challenging intoxication
  3. Punishment mitigation
  1. Challenging Causation

Causation in Texas is a “but-for” test. A person is criminally responsible if the result would not have occurred but for his conduct. An exception to this rule, per § 6.04(a), is when there is a concurrent cause – “unless the concurrent cause was clearly sufficient to produce the result and the conduct of the actor clearly insufficient.”

  1. Challenging Intoxication

Very rarely will there be an intoxication assault or manslaughter case that does not include a blood test. The blood evidence is most commonly obtained via consent or warrant.

If the client suffered injuries in the accident, there may also be an ETOH reading found in the medical records. The State may subpoena these records and attempt to use them at trial.

It is important to have an attorney who understands the scientific principles of both whole blood analyzed in a forensic lab and enzymatic serum analysis performed in a hospital lab.

  1. Punishment Mitigation

There are going to be cases where mitigating punishment is a big focus of the defense strategy and you need to start from day 1. An attorney experienced in handling these types of cases will have recommendations on where to start.

The attorneys at Hamilton Grant have extensive experience in defending intoxication manslaughter and intoxication assault cases. Deandra Grant is both a trial attorney and a forensic consultant on blood alcohol issues. She has a Masters Degree in Pharmaceutical Science with a concentration in forensic science and a Graduate Certificate in Forensic Toxicology. She is a field sobriety testing instructor and an assistant chromatography instructor – the method used in forensic labs to perform blood alcohol analysis. She’s known as “The Lawyer Lawyers Call”.

Contact Hamilton Grant at (972) 943-8500 DFW and (512) 279-6600.

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