Affluenza Teen Loses Appeal

By George Khoury, Esq. on April 18, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A few years ago, Ethan Couch was made infamous as a result of the defense his lawyers pleaded in an effort to get him off on four counts of DWI manslaughter. Couch is the notorious "affluenza teen." This week he is again making headlines as the Texas Supreme Court denied his appeal.

Unlike influenza, affluenza is a rather different ailment, if it can even be considered such at all. Couch's medical expert testified that the teen was unable to appreciate the consequences of his actions (of killing four people while driving drunk) due to his affluent upbringing. As if claiming an affluent upbringing as a defense wasn't shocking enough, until he fled the country in 2015, he wasn't even sentenced to a single day behind bars.

Couch on the Lamb

Initially, Couch was given a slap on the wrist sentence, despite being convicted of killing four people, and injuring two others, as a result of a drunk driving accident he caused. While he could have been sentenced to decades behind bars, he was given a sentence of 10 years on probation. However, as most people expected, Couch violated the terms of his probation. But, rather than take the consequences like a responsible adult, Couch fled the country to Mexico, with his mother. Good judgment clearly doesn't run in the family.

Unfortunately for the young fugitive Couch and mama Couch, Mexico has an extradition agreement with the US, and was likely all too pleased to rid their country of the scourge of Affluenza, and sent the pair back in the custody of authorities. Now in addition to the penalties for the little Couch, mama Couch is likely facing criminal penalties too.

Going Once, Going Twice, Going to Jail

Upon his return, Couch was sentenced to two years behind bars. Not surprising in the least bit, Couch's lawyers challenged the sentence. However, the appeals court shot down the appeal, essentially upholding the lower court's sentence. However, the sentence was not related to the probation violation, but rather was part of the standard procedure for transitioning a juvenile probationer to adult probation. Under Texas law, this transition from juvenile to adult probation requires the probationer serve at least 120 days behind bars. The judge sentenced Couch to serve 180 days per each of the four manslaughter counts he was convicted on.

While thus far it sounds like Couch is finally facing some sort of real punishment, his attorneys still have a short window to move the court for reconsideration.

Related Resources:

Copied to clipboard