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Have you been arrested and charged with the crime of intoxication assault in Fort Worth or a surrounding city in Tarrant County, Texas? If so, you need the help of an experienced and aggressive DWI defense law firm that can put together a plan to protect your freedom and your clean criminal record.
Additionally, time is of the essence if you have been recently arrested! You have 15 days from the date of your intoxication assault arrest to make a request for an administrative license revocation hearing with the Texas Department of Public Safety. If you fail to make the request timely, your Texas driver’s license will be automatically suspended for up to 180 days.
Most people can’t imagine a situation worse than driving a car that is involved in a car accident with a family member in the car. The idea of this is bad enough but if you’ve been drinking and your family member is hurt or seriously injured, you could be facing charges of intoxication assault as well as DWI charges under Texas laws. These charges are automatic, your family member does not have to be willing to press charges; the State of Texas will pursue them automatically on their own.
That’s where Jeff Hampton and The Hampton Law Firm comes in. At The Hampton Law Firm, you will find a team of aggressive, experienced and strategic DWI attorneys who know how to get results. If you’re facing felony charges as serious as Intoxication Assault, you need the best intoxication assault lawyers on your side. Call 817-435-2909 now to schedule a free case review with the Hampton Law Firm.
Texas Penal Code Regarding Intoxication Assault Charges
Under Texas Code, Section 49.07 you can face intoxication assault charges if you’re responsible, purposefully or accidentally, for serious injury that occurs to another person if you are operating a motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft or an amusement ride while intoxicated.
In addition, you can be facing the same charges if you were assembling an amusement park ride while intoxicated and someone later suffers serious bodily injury.
In addition to the other elements we are about to cover for the crime of intoxication assault, it is critical to remember that all the elements of a driving while intoxicated must also be proven for the crime of intoxication assault:
- You must have been operating a motor vehicle
- In Tarrant County or county in Texas
- In a Public Place
- While Intoxicated
Intoxication is defined as lacking the normal use of your mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, drug or dangerous drug into your body OR having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher at the time of operating the vehicle.
Failure to prove each of these elements of the crime will result in a verdict of not guilty at a jury trial. Your attorney needs to go over these elements of the crime with you and compare them to your case facts to develop a winning defense strategy.
There are two important factors you must be aware of:
- The definition of serious bodily injury which is defined by Texas statutes as “… 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“.
- The other factor you must be aware of is that in these instances, a law enforcement officer need not obtain a warrant to draw blood from you for blood alcohol testing, they may do so by force if necessary.
Punishment for an Intoxication Assault in Texas
Intoxication assault charges are considered a third degree felony charge in Texas. The Texas Penal Code states that those found guilty of a third degree felony will serve a minimum of two years in prison and a maximum of 10 years and may face fines of up to $10,000.
Because more criminal courts are also assessing probation after jail time, once you are freed from prison you could also be required to perform up to 600 hours of community service.
You could face additional consequences including losing your right to own a firearm and being required to re-register to retain your voting rights after a third degree felony conviction. You will also be required to admit you are a convicted felon on job applications and interviews, thereby limiting your opportunities for meaningful employment. You could also face other problems, including your ability to secure housing.
Never make the assumption that you can beat felony intoxication assault charges on your own. In order to ensure you are not treated unfairly by the prosecutor, it is critical that you retain a skilled intoxication assault attorney to secure your best options.
What Does the Prosecutor Need to Prove for an Intoxication Assault Conviction in Texas Courts?
One of the challenges the prosecutor will face in proving intoxication assault is that the accident would not have occurred had you not been drinking. In other words, the element of causation must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution.
While this may sound simple, it’s in fact, very complex. For example, if you’ve been involved in a two-person accident and the passenger in the other vehicle was seriously injured you may think the police will automatically assess the fault for those injuries to you.
However, there could be other factors involved that could have reasonably caused the injury that have nothing to do with intoxication, including:
- Other driver at-fault – what if the police accident reports indicate the other driver was partially or entirely at-fault for the accident? For example, if the other driver ran a red light and as a result of running a red light, you hit his vehicle. Even if you were intoxicated at the time of the accident, you may not have been the cause of the accident and therefore you may not be guilty of intoxication assault.
- Passenger at-fault – if a passenger in your vehicle or another vehicle was injured in an accident caused by you but they failed to wear a seatbelt, it’s possible you may be found not guilty of intoxication assault. While the accident may be your fault and you may have been under the influence of alcohol to the point of intoxication, the passenger may not have suffered as severe an injury had they been wearing a seatbelt. Specifically, the intoxication must have been the cause of the passengers injury and if there was a separate cause of the injury, the case could be dismissed.
The reason these defenses for intoxication assault could prove effective is because of section 6.04(a) of Texas Penal Code Causation: Conduct and Results states:
“A person is criminally responsible if the result would not have occurred but for his conduct, operating either alone or concurrently with another cause, unless the concurrent cause was clearly sufficient to produce the result and the conduct of the actor clearly insufficient.“
As you can see from the above definition, the result must have occurred because of intoxication and if the State of Texas is unable to prove this element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, you will be found not guilty in a jury trial.
Field Sobriety Tests and Intoxication Assault
Another way to defend against these charges is to question the results of field sobriety testing. If you were investigated for DWI or intoxication assault, the DWI officer likely asked you to perform field sobriety testing. The primary purpose of field sobriety testing is to assess the mental and physical faculties of the accused to determine if sufficient evidence can be established that the driver was intoxicated.
However, field sobriety tests are only as reliable as the person administering the tests follows the guidelines for administration and interpretation. In other words, if the DWI officer does not give you the correct instructions or properly score the tests, your field sobriety tests could be ruled unreliable and inadmissible in court. If the field sobriety tests are inadmissible in court, there may be a lack of evidence to provide probable cause for arrest. Your Intoxication Assault attorney should thoroughly review our reports and videos to determine if the DWI officer properly administered and interpreted the field sobriety tests.
Blood Tests and Intoxication Assault
One of the most important pieces of evidence an experienced and aggressive intoxication assault lawyer will review and challenge is the blood test results. This can be very important because there are frequently problems that arise with blood testing and the administering of the blood testing. For example, was the person taking the blood a “Qualified Technician,” as required under Texas DWI laws? Did the technician use an alcohol or betadine swab while taking the blood? Was the chain of custody clearly provided? Did the seal on the blood vials hold their integrity or was the seal broken, causing spoilage and an unreliable blood vial? All of these are issues your DWI lawyer should be examining during your defense of intoxication assault.
What if the blood draw was performed properly but the blood was taken from you a number of hours after the car accident? This can present a challenge for the State of Texas because they are required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were intoxicated AT THE TIME YOU WERE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE, not hours later.
A blood test merely shows your blood alcohol level at the time of the test. The longer it took to draw your blood, the less reliable the blood draw will be in establishing your blood alcohol level at the time of operating the vehicle. In order to fight your blood alcohol results, your DWI lawyer will want to review the evidence to see if the State has sufficient evidence to EXTRAPOLATE back in time to show your blood alcohol level at the time of the accident.
In order to extrapolate back in time, the police officer would have been required to gather information from you such as: last drink, how many drinks and over what time period, when you ate your last meal, first drink, etc. The answers to these questions can impact the toxicologists ability to provide a medical opinion regarding your intoxication levels at the time of operating the vehicle. As such, it is important to remember that the officer will ask you these questions to use your answers against you, not for you. You are not obligated to answer any questions from the DWI officer during the investigation.
Grand Jury and Intoxication Assault
Finally, if any of the legal defenses we examined in this article apply to your intoxication assault case, your attorney can prepare an evidence packet for a presentation to grand jury.
Because intoxication assault is a felony crime under Texas law, the prosecutor will be required to present evidence to a grand jury to determine if probable cause exists for the crime to move forward in a felony district court. By preparing evidence establishing a possible legal defense, the grand jury could choose to lower an intoxication assault charge to a misdemeanor DWI charge or they could find the case lack evidence and render a NO BILL. A no bill is the equivalent of a dismissal or exoneration of all charges.
It is critical that your discuss the grand jury process with your intoxication assault lawyer and determine if your case can be quickly dismissed for lack of evidence.
Drinking and driving is never a good idea; driving a car in an accident where people are injured and facing felony charges is life altering. If you don’t seek immediate help from an attorney, important deadlines could pass; the use of certain defenses could be lost; and the opportunity to file objections to the inclusion or removal of specific evidence could be gone forever.
Contact an Intoxication Assault Attorney Today
If you have been arrested and charged with intoxication assault, you need a criminal defense law firm that has a proven track record of obtaining favorable results for citizens charged with intoxication assault.
Don’t hesitate to contact our law firm. The Hampton Law Firm is a team of Former Prosecutors with over 85 years of criminal and DWI experience and over 550 DWI and criminal jury trials in the courts of Tarrant County and other courts in North Texas.
Call 817-435-2909 now to schedule a free consultation with Jeff Hampton. He is an aggressive, skilled defense lawyer who has taken hundreds of cases to trial. He knows how to tear apart a prosecutor’s case that is flawed. With so much on the line, you need to hire an experienced defense lawyer for intoxication assault charges like Hampton.
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