As the result of a hit-and-run accident in Houston on Sunday, May 3, police have arrested a local man on charges of driving while intoxicated and felony murder. According to prosecutors, they have gone so far as to request that the court deny bail entirely.
According to the police report, 62-year-old Houston resident Jose Talamantes fled the scene of an accident at approximately 9:25 p.m. Sunday evening. The accident occurred on the southbound Highway 59 feeder road near Hillcroft Avenue.
Witnesses claim a Cadillac driven by Mr. Talamantes struck a vehicle that was exiting the freeway. The impact was severe enough that it ejected the other driver from the vehicle. The other driver – a 29-year-old man – died in the crash. Witnesses allege Talamantes fled on foot to a nearby house.
Police eventually made contact with Talamantes and allege he smelled of alcohol when they spoke with him. The police report claims Talamantes submitted to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test that shows he was above the legal limit. In addition to driving while intoxicated and felony murder, police also charged him with failure to render aid.
Felony Murder in DWI Offenses
Court records show that Mr. Talamantes has two prior convictions for driving while intoxicated. Because of his prior convictions, this third offense is treated as a felony under state law.
His criminal history has other repercussions for the charges he is currently facing. Because the act of driving while intoxicated was a felony, the prosecution is able to file a charge of felony murder. The potential penalties for a conviction of felony murder far outweigh the associated penalties with driving under the influence.
Had Mr. Talamantes not been facing felony DWI charges, the odds are good he would have faced an intoxication manslaughter charge instead. While serious, this offense carries lighter potential penalties than felony murder. These charges are typically brought when a misdemeanor DWI results in the death of another person.
The Denial of Bail
Another unusual wrinkle in this case is that the prosecution is seeking the court to hold Talamantes without bail. In the vast majority of DWI cases, the court will release defendants on their own recognizance or grant bail to allow them to await trial out of state custody.
However, there are some limited circumstances where the court could hold a defendant behind bars until their trial date. The court may deny bail in a DWI case when the case involves the death or serious bodily injury of another person, among other reasons. Ultimately, the judge will determine if Mr. Talamantes will be allowed bail or if he must remain in custody.
The Importance of Legal Counsel
If you are facing charges of DWI in the Houston area, your choice of legal counsel could impact every aspect of your case. From the charges you face to your chance of obtaining bail, a Board Certified DWI defense lawyer can protect your rights and improve your odds or a favorable outcome in your criminal case.