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Understanding intoxication assault and intoxication manslaughter charges

| Feb 3, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Texas has laws that specifically apply when a person who’s impaired by alcohol and/or drugs unintentionally injures or kills someone else with a vehicle. If you have been charged with “intoxication assault” or “intoxication manslaughter,” it’s crucial that you understand what these charges mean and what the prosecution has to prove for a conviction.

Intoxication assault

A person can be charged with this crime if they cause “serious bodily injury” while they were intoxicated and operating a:

  • Motor vehicle
  • Watercraft
  • Aircraft
  • Amusement ride

They can also be charged with intoxication assault if another person was injured due to a malfunction that occurred because they were intoxicated while “assembling a mobile amusement ride.”

This is a typically a third-degree felony charge. However, it could rise to the level of a first- or second-degree felony if the person injured was a police officer, firefighter, emergency responder, judge or other official who was on duty.

Intoxication manslaughter

A person can face this charge if they unintentionally cause someone’s death while they’re operating any of the four things listed above. The charge can also be used if someone dies as the result of a malfunctioning amusement ride that was assembled while a person was intoxicated.

Intoxication manslaughter is usually a second-degree felony. It can be enhanced to a first-degree felony if the victim was on the job in the professions noted above for intoxication assault.

Intoxication assault and manslaughter are not the same as vehicular assault or manslaughter. The intoxication element is essential to the charge.

If a person can show that they weren’t under the influence or at least create reasonable doubt in the minds of jurors, perhaps because of flaws in the investigation, they can prevail in court. That’s why it’s wise to talk with an experienced attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one is facing these charges.