The State of Texas is no stranger to deadly car accidents, and some of these accidents lead to criminal charges. Sometimes these charges are based on DWI accidents, but that does not have to be the case. (Learn more about DWI charges) Dangerous driving that ends in a traffic fatality can reach the level of a felony, and it is known as criminally negligent homicide (CNH).
Criminally Negligent Homicide
While criminally negligent homicide does not specifically address driving, it is often applied to car accidents. There are several basic elements to any CNH case:
- The defendant’s conduct must have caused the death.
- The defendant should have been aware that his or her conduct created a substantial and unjustifiable risk of death.
- The defendant’s lack of awareness in this regard was a gross deviation from the care ordinary people exercise under similar circumstances.
Let us put this information into context by considering a hypothetical example. While we all make errors in judgment when it comes to driving, most of us take the responsibility of driving safely quite seriously. If a driver speeds, unsafely changes lanes without checking and fails to implement necessary evasive actions in the process, this could all add up to a gross deviation from the standard care most drivers observe. (Excess Speed Is Often Deadly) While no one of these actions is especially egregious (in fact, they are all minor traffic violations), such driving could reach the level of CNH if it leads to a traffic fatality.
A CNH Conviction
If you are convicted of criminally negligent homicide – a state jail felony – the stakes are high:
- You face anywhere from 180 days to 2 years in jail
- You face fines of up to $10,000
- You will be a convicted felon, including all that being a felon entails
The Consequences of a Texas Felony Conviction
Convicted felons in Texas face considerable consequences:
- Felons cannot vote while in prison (the right is restored upon release).
- Without a full pardon, a convicted felon cannot run for or hold any public office.
- Felons cannot serve on juries.
- Felons lose the right to bear arms, which can be restored only after the five-year period following completion of sentence (in its entirety, including parole and probation). Further, this right to possession extends only to a felon’s residence. (Probation vs. Parole in the State of Texas)
If You Have Been Charged with Criminally Negligent Homicide, You Need a Killeen Criminal Defense Lawyer on Your Side
Felony charges are a serious matter, and you do not need multiple DWI convictions under your belt to be so charged. If you are involved in a car accident that results in a fatality, you could face CNH charges and need an experienced criminal attorney on your side. Criminal lawyer Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen has the skill, commitment, and experience to aggressively defend your rights and help guide your case toward its most positive resolution. We are here to help, so please contact or call us at (254) 220-4225 for more information today.