A 26-year-old woman and mother of two was arrested November 9, 2019, in Harris County after a car accident injured one child and claimed the life of another. Following the crash, the woman was investigated for driving while intoxicated. She now faces criminal charges related to the death.
Cristal Gonzales was charged with one count of felony murder and one count of intoxication assault after crashing her car while allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol. Her three-year-old son died in the crash, while her eight-year-old son was injured. Early in the morning of Saturday, November 9th, Gonzales struck a median while driving on Mykawa road near the Sam Houston Tollway. Both Gonzales and her older son survived, despite both suffering critical injuries.
According to law enforcement, Gonzales had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) more than three times the legal limit. Due to the death of her child, she faces felony murder charges. Prosecutors typically use this charge as opposed to intoxication manslaughter when the underlying DWI would have been a felony had there not been a fatality. In addition to the felony murder charge, Gonzales also faces intoxication assault charges related to her older son's injuries.
Understanding Intoxication Assault
Intoxication assault is an alternate form of DWI charge. According to Texas Penal Code § 49.07¸intoxication assault occurs when a person:
while operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, by reason of that intoxication causes serious bodily injury to another.
Not every injury that results from a DWI accident will lead to an intoxication assault charge. For the charge of intoxication assault to be appropriate, the accident must result in serious bodily injury. According to state law, a bodily injury is only serious if it
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.
This could include anything from paralysis to head trauma to extensive blood loss. Among other potential defenses, a Houston DWI defense lawyer could argue that the injuries suffered in a crash do not meet the standard of a serious bodily injury.
Intoxication assault carries significant penalties. The charge is treated as a third-degree felony by default, but other factors could enhance the penalties. For example, the crime becomes a second-degree felony if the alleged victim is in a vegetative state or was an on-duty peace officer or other public servant.
Speak with an Experienced Houston DWI Lawyer Right Away
If you are facing any DWI-related charges in Houston, it is crucial that you understand what is at stake. Even a first-offense DWI could have a permanent impact on your life. Your ability to earn a living, your access to housing, and even your freedom could be on the line.
Attorney Doug Murphy understands what is at stake. He has successfully built a career of defending the accused throughout Houston and has won countless favorable outcomes for his clients in DWI trials. To learn about your legal options, contact Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away.