'Affluenza' DWI Case: DA Still Wants Jail Time

By Brett Snider, Esq. on December 19, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The DWI convicted teen with "affluenza" may still be facing incarceration if one Texas DA gets his way.

Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon confirmed Wednesday that his office will attempt to get the "too rich for jail" teen locked in juvenile detention for "two lesser counts of intoxication assault." According to Reuters, these charges were not included in the affluent 16-year-old's trial verdict.

Will this new legal gambit end with the rich Texas teen behind bars?

Lesser Charges, Greater Punishment?

Under Texas law, intoxication assault is a third degree felony which carries with it a maximum of 10 years in state prison. However, since the affluenza-afflicted Ethan Couch is currently 16, he would likely only spend a maximum of three years in juvenile detention if convicted.

Texas juvenile offenders must be discharged from "juvie" by their 19th birthday, to complete the remainder of their sentences on parole.

Since Couch has already been sentenced to 10 years of probation for the four charges of intoxication manslaughter for killing four people in a DWI crash, this new strategy would serve only to increase his jail time in juvenile detention.

Still, Shannon is undeterred. "Every case deserves a verdict," he said, according to Reuters -- referring to the two unresolved intoxication assault charges.

'Affluenza' Parents and Policy

It appears that Couch's apple may not have fallen far from the tree: Both of the teen's parents are reported to have criminal histories, including his father's arrests for assault, evading arrest, and DWI.

Couch's mother was also charged with reckless driving, reports Dallas/Fort Worth's KTVT.

None of these prior misdeeds will affect a judge's decision on whether to lump additional punishment upon the rich teen at the DA's suggestion. But it does paint a rather vivid narrative of how Couch arrived at this point.

Both Texas gubernatorial candidates Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott said that they would "consider changes" to prevent the teen's light sentence from happening again, reports Reuters.

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