Mandatory compensation for a child victim of drunken manslaughter law scrgruppen

Texas already has some of the harshest drunk driving laws in the country, and now lawmakers have taken another step forward. Governor Greg Abbott recently signed a law requiring drunk drivers who cause an accident that kills a parent to pay child support until the surviving child (or children) turns 18 or graduates from high school.

The new law goes into effect on September 1, 2023.

In this article, certified criminal defense attorney Benson Varghese explains the new law, the legislative intent behind it, and how civil compensation (in addition to the criminal penalty) applies to a defendant convicted of intoxication manslaughter in the death of a parent in Texas.

Mandatory compensation for a child victim of drunken manslaughter

Starting September 1, 2023, anyone convicted of drunken manslaughter in Texas will be required to pay monthly child support if they cause an accident that results in the death of a parent with minor children. New Law – Passed in the 88th Texas Legislative Session House Bill 393 – Chapter 42 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure is amended by adding Section 42.9375 entitled: “Mandatory Compensation for a Child Victim of Poisoning.”

This statute stipulates the following:

  • ol]:!pt-0 [&>ol]:!pb-0 [&>ul]:!pt-0 [&>ul]:!pb-0″ value=”1″>The defendant is not required to pay restitution to a person 19 years of age or older.
    • The child’s financial needs and resources;
    • The parent, surviving guardian, or other current guardian of the child or, if applicable, the financial resources of the state if the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) has been appointed as temporary or permanent administrative guardian of the child;
    • The standard of living to which the child is accustomed;
    • The child’s physical and emotional condition and educational needs;
    • Arrangements for physical and legal custody of the child;
    • Reasonable work-related child care expenses for the parent, surviving guardian, or other current guardian if applicable; And
    • The defendant’s financial resources.
  • Bentley’s Law: Legislative Intent

    Texas’ drunken child support manslaughter law is also referred to as the “Bentley Law.” Like much legislation, this law arose out of a tragedy that attracted national attention. On April 13, 2021, a mother, father, and their 4-year-old son were killed in a DUI car accident in Missouri. They left behind two other sons, Bentley and Mason, who went to live with their grandmother, Cecilia Williams.

    Over the next two years, Grandma advocated for a law requiring drunk drivers, when convicted of causing the death of a parent, to provide child support for surviving minor children.

    In 2022, Tennessee became the first state to pass Bentley’s Law. Since then, more than a dozen states have introduced Bentley’s Law or are drafting such legislation. The Texas version of the law was signed in June and went into effect on September 1, 2023.

    Criminal Punishment for Drunken Manslaughter in Texas

    Under a new Texas law, drunk drivers must pay child support if they are convicted of killing a parent — which is a civil penalty in nature. But the defendant will also face harsh criminal penalties that could include imprisonment, fines, and collateral consequences that will follow him for life.

    In Texas, drunken manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Again, child support will be in addition to any criminal penalty imposed

    Additionally, if more than one person is killed in a drunk driving crash, the defendant may face multiple charges – one for each death. For example, if two people were murdered and the jury sentenced the defendant to 20 years in prison in each case, the defendant could be sentenced to 40 years in prison if the judge decided to “stack” the sentences. Alternatively, the judge can also serve both sentences at the same time, which is common in Tarrant and Dallas counties.

    Having said that, it is also important to note that it is possible for a defendant to be sentenced to probation in a drunken manslaughter case. However, if probation is granted, it is usually for 10 years, and the defendant will be subject to several strict probation conditions, including abstaining from alcohol, performing community service, completing classes, and reporting regularly to the probation officer. Any violation of probation could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

    Please take a moment to watch this video about Texas intoxication manslaughter charges by North Texas attorney Benson Varghese, who is highly skilled in handling all types of intoxication crimes.

    Accused of drunken manslaughter? call us.

    Drunk manslaughter cases are extremely difficult for everyone involved – in part because the defendant never intended to kill anyone but nonetheless left a trail of devastation and grief that will last a lifetime.

    If you or a loved one have been charged with drunken manslaughter in North Texas, it is essential to retain an experienced defense attorney with extensive experience handling these complex and highly emotional charges. At Varghese Summersett, we have successfully defended numerous intoxication manslaughter cases and understand the impact these cases have on families and individuals.

    We design a defense strategy that matches the unique circumstances of each case. Beyond just legal representation, we provide guidance, reputation management and a path forward through one of life’s most challenging moments. Call 817-203-2220 for a free consultation today with one of our experienced manslaughter attorneys. We serve Fort Worth, Dallas and surrounding areas.

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