Most people assume that homicide is a crime, but the law considers any taking of a
human life by another person to be a criminal offense. People die each day as
the result of automobile accidents without the responsible drivers being
arrested. Negligence is a deviation from an accepted standard of
reasonable care. Slippery roads, traffic congestion, driver
distraction and driver error can all contribute to an accident
occurring through a negligent act.
Prosecutors will frequently charge the driver of a motor vehicle with criminally negligent homicide when they believe the driver’s actions included:
Texas lawmakers enacted Texas Penal Code Section 19.05 making it a crime to cause the death of another person by criminal negligence.
Negligent homicide places a burden on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable
doubt that a death resulted from a deliberate act that could have been foreseen
as placing another person’s life in jeopardy. The difference between simple
negligence and criminally negligent homicide is that the offender could
foresee that an act placed someone in jeopardy. For example, a motorist
who sees pedestrians crossing the street but runs through a red light
could be charged with criminally negligent homicide.
Criminally negligent homicide is a felony offense punishable by six months to two years in a
state jail and a fine that cannot exceed $10,000. Depending upon the facts of a particular
case, prosecutors can charge a person with using a deadly weapon even if the weapon is a motor
vehicle. This increases the potential penalties to two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The prosecutor has the burden of proving that a person’s actions caused a substantial and
unjustifiable risk that another person could be injured or killed. Experienced criminally
negligent homicide attorneys know that accidents happen in which people die, but a
person’s death does not automatically mean the driver at fault is guilty of criminally
A criminally negligent homicide lawyer might develop a strategy that challenges the
prosecutor’s presentation of the facts surrounding the death of the victim. Failure to
exercise reasonable care might be negligent, and it might subject a person to civil
liability for causing another person’s death. If the prosecutor cannot prove each
element of the case, the accident may be negligent without being criminal.
If you are charged with criminally negligent homicide, you need the services of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who has years of trial experience. Houston criminal defense lawyer Rand Mintzer has the skills and courtroom experience to take on the most difficult cases.