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Henry Ruggs III: What would he be facing in Texas?

| Nov 5, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Henry Ruggs III, second year wide receiver out of the University of Alabama and promising young player for the Las Vegas Raiders, was recently involved in a high-speed accident which killed 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her 3-year-old golden retriever Max. According to reports, Ruggs was going 156 miles per hour, had a blood alcohol content of .161, and had a firearm in the car when he struck Ms. Tintor’s car.

While we can’t speak for what will happen in his case or how he will be charged in the State of Nevada, this article aims to explain what Mr. Ruggs could be charged with if the events happened in Texas.

Intoxicated Manslaughter

The most serious (and obvious) crime Mr. Ruggs could be charged with in Texas is intoxicated manslaughter. Texas Penal Code Section 49.08 sets out the elements required to prove intoxicated manslaughter. Specifically, a person commits an offense if the person:

1.      Operates a motor vehicle in a public place,

2.      Is intoxicated,

3.      And by reason of the intoxication, causes the death of another by accident or mistake.

While the State would have to prove that Mr. Ruggs’ driving while intoxicated caused the death of Ms. Tintor, they would NOT have to prove that he intended to cause Ms. Tintor’s death.

In Texas, this is a second-degree felony, punishable by no less than 2 years but no more than 20 years in prison, and by a fine up to $10,000.

Driving While Intoxicated

Another obvious crime Mr. Ruggs could potentially be charged with is driving while intoxicated. Texas Penal Code Section 49.04 defines driving while intoxicated as:

1.      Operating a motor vehicle

2.      In a public place

3.      While intoxicated

In Texas, being intoxicated means “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body,” or “having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.”

If there are no 4th amendment issues as to obtaining Mr. Ruggs blood, the State would be able to show that he was intoxicated as his blood alcohol content was .161, more than double the legal limit. Even if they are not able to use his blood alcohol content, if they show that alcohol caused him to lose the normal use of his mental or physical faculties while operating a motor vehicle, they would be able to prove Mr. Ruggs committed the offense of driving while intoxicated.

In Texas, since his blood alcohol content is above .15, this would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 365 days in the county jail and a $4,000 fine.

Reckless Driving

Another somewhat obvious (but less serious) crime Mr. Ruggs could be charged with in Texas is reckless driving. Under the Texas Transportation Code Section 545.401, a person commits the offense of reckless driving if they drive a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. If someone is found guilty of this, the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $200 fine, confinement in the county jail for up to 30 days, or both the fine and confinement.

By driving 156 miles per hour on a public road, the prosecutors likely would be able to prove Mr. Ruggs drove with wanton disregard for the safety of others, and that he committed the offense of reckless driving.

Unlawful Carrying of a Weapon

One of the less obvious crimes Mr. Ruggs could be charged with in Texas is unlawfully carrying a weapon. While the unlawful carrying of a weapon in Texas is a somewhat complex law, Texas Penal Code Section 46.02 defines one way that someone can unlawfully carry a weapon by:

1.      Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carrying a handgun

2.      While the person is engaged in criminal activity

Because Mr. Ruggs was driving while intoxicated, and also had a handgun in the vehicle, in the State of Texas, he could be charged for unlawfully carrying a weapon as he was intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carrying a handgun, while engaging in a criminal activity, namely, driving while intoxicated.

This type of unlawful carrying of a firearm would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 365 days in the county jail and a $4,000 fine.

While we can’t say how this situation will play out in Nevada, we are interested to see how Mr. Ruggs gets charged, and will keep a close eye on the issues that arise throughout his case.