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Vehicular Manslaughter

Accidents Statistics in the State of Texas

Accidents happen every day, especially in the heart of the city of Houston, where people are racing to get home after work. Unfortunately, the city of Houston is notorious for speeding as there are trends and tidbits on the internet about Texas driving and the dangers some visitors might face when driving on Texas freeways. The “Be safe, Drive Smart” campaign, which is run by the Texas Department of Transportation, is meant for Texans to be more cautious while driving in the hope that car accidents are decreased on the freeways.

In 2021 alone there have been more than 163,000 automobile accidents that involved speeding; about 6,493 of those automobile accidents resulted in serious injuries and 1,532 of those automobile accidents resulted in fatalities. According to the Texas Department of Transportation that was about an 8% increase from the previous year.

Vehicular Manslaughter Defined in the State of Texas

In the State of Texas, vehicular manslaughter does not have a separate section in the Penal Code. Instead, an offender can be charged based on a number of different statutes. Vehicular manslaughter does not have to be a car; vehicular manslaughter can happen when driving a motorcycle, a boat or even a plane or flying an aircraft.

For instance, under Texas Penal Code 19.04, Manslaughter is defined as a crime a person commits if they recklessly cause the death of an individual. It states this offense is considered a second-degree felony which constitutes a minimum of 2-20 years of jail time, and in some cases with an addition of up to $10,000 in fines; or you could be charged with Texas Penal Code 19.05: criminally negligent homicide. This kind of offense is committed by the person who causes the death of another person. Criminal negligent homicide is a crime punishable as a state jail felony, which consists of 180-2 years in jail for the offender, with fines up to $10,000 included with the confinement.

If it is discovered the accident that led to a person’s death was caused due to racing, you could be charged with Transportation code 545.420. This code says, a person may not participate in any manner of a race, a vehicle speed competition or contest, a drag race or acceleration contest, a test of physical endurance of the operator of the vehicle or in connection with a drag race, an exhibition of vehicle speed or acceleration to make a vehicle speed record. This is considered a Class B Misdemeanor, which would have the penalties of confinement in jail for up to 180 days, a fine consisting of up to $2,000 or both a confinement and fines included.

You can also be charged with reckless driving under the Texas Statutes Transportation code 545.041, which states a person commits this offense if they drive a motor vehicle in a willful disregard for the safety of persons or property. This misdemeanor offense includes confinement in jail for a maximum of 30 days or a fine up to $200 or you could be ordered to do both a confinement and to pay fines.

The Penalties of this Crime

Since vehicular manslaughter is not clearly defined, you can be charged with one or more multiple charges. The charges can range anywhere from a Class A misdemeanor all the way to a first-degree felony and can be stacked on top of each other. This all depends on the unique situation of the vehicular accident and the defendant. There could be other additions, such as your driver’s license being revoked or suspended. On average, you could be looking at 2-20 years in prison or more, depending on the judge ruling with the possibility of a fine up to $10,000. There can also be added community service or suspension, such as probation.

There can also be a civil case that could be opened alongside the criminal case by the victim’s family. The victim’s family can sue for gross negligence, which is when the defendant involves himself in an extreme degree of risk knowing the potential harm that can occur to others. This allows the deceased victim’s family to recover for damages incurred and on behalf of the victim, such as punitive damages due to the gross negligence caused by the defendant and for property damage or loss of the vehicle driven by the victim and owned by the victim.

Not only is there a punishment by the law, but there could also be social repercussions such as difficulty in obtaining a job due to background checks made by an employer, your insurance payments can be increased or you can have difficulty obtaining insurance at a reasonable rate. If you have a felony record, obtaining housing or renting can be difficult too, as it narrows your opportunities in the housing market. Familial relations and friendship can become strained or difficult to hold on to, as they may have biased opinions about the accident and the role you played in it.

Examples of Vehicular Manslaughter that Can Occur

The most violated traffic law in the State of Texas that can result in vehicular manslaughter is driving while intoxicated, which is also known as DWI. Drunk driving causes the most driving fatalities in the State of Texas. In just the past year, about 963 people were killed because someone drove while intoxicated. With there being so many sober ride options such as an Uber driver, Rideshare, calling a Taxi or having or asking a friend or relative to be your dedicated designated driver, this is 100 percent avoidable and preventable.

The second most violated traffic law in the State of Texas would be driving over the speed limit, also known as speeding. There was just a recent case in Fort Bend County where a man named Cedric Mayberry was traveling at the speed of 121 miles per hour and struck the back of a motor vehicle that belonged to Justin Varghese that was stopped at a red light. The speed at which Cedric Mayberry hit Justin’s motor vehicle then caused his motor vehicle to strike two more motor vehicles that were in front of him before coming to rest, Justin Varghese died instantly upon impact. A simple thing such as just slowing down while driving your vehicle can save a person’s life and make a big difference in our society, which is why the Texas Department of Transportation is adamant about the “Be Safe, Drive Smart” campaign.

For instance, another example could be driving while you are feeling sleepy or falling asleep; long-distance drivers tend to be overconfident in their ability to stay awake, which can cause an accident due to them falling asleep on the road and not fully paying attention. There was no intention to harm or injure someone, but if a motor vehicle accident was to occur and there were fatalities, you could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Need Help? Call Us Now!

Do not hesitate to call us if you find yourself or someone you know who is facing these criminal charges, as they can hold serious consequences, including life in prison. We will work with you to give you the best type of defense that can help you solve your case. It is vital to have someone explain to you the result of your charge(s) and guide you in the best possible way.

Here at the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we have professional and knowledgeable Criminal Law attorneys who are experienced in building a defense for you that suits your needs for the best possible outcome that will benefit you.

We offer complimentary consultations via Zoom, on the phone or in-person.

Call us today at: 281-810-9760.

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