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Update: Affluenza Teen Sentenced To Jail

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Photo: U.S. Marshals Service/AP.
Update: “Affluenza teen” Ethan Couch has been sentenced to jail. The Dallas Morning News reports that Couch has been sentenced to almost two years for violating his probation — 180 days for each of four counts of manslaughter.
State District Judge Wayne Salvant told lawyers on both sides that they would have an opportunity to argue their cases, but that Couch would remain in custody for the time being, saying that nothing he had ruled was "set in stone."
Couch, now 19, was tried as a juvenile and received probation for killing four people while drunk-driving in 2013. Wednesday afternoon was Couch’s first appearance in adult court since his case was moved out of the juvenile system in February — although he was still tried as a minor — after his arrest and deportation from Mexico. His mother, who was arrested with him, has been charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon for her role in his escape to Mexico. She faces up to 10 years in prison.
Update, February 19, 2016: A judge has moved "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch's case to an adult court, the Associated Press reports. Couch had been in a juvenile detention center since being deported from Mexico. He allegedly fled to Mexico with his mother after a video surfaced that appeared to show him violating his probation.

As the AP notes, Couch was 16 when he was involved in a 2013 drunk driving crash that killed four people. His case has been referred to with the term "affluenza," due to Couch's lawyers' suggestion that he wasn't fully responsible for his actions because he'd been "coddled" by his wealthy parents, according to AP.

Couch, now 18, could face 120 days in jail before finishing his 10-year probation. If he violates his probation during the 10-year period, he could be sentenced to as many as 10 years in prison for each victim of the 2013 crash.

Update: January 30, 2016, 1:50 p.m.:
A judge has ruled that “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch will remain in a juvenile detention center until his next hearing on February 19.

NPR reports that Judge Timothy Menikos ruled that Couch, 18, will remain in a juvenile center until a hearing, which will decide whether he will be transferred to the adult prison system. Couch arrived back in the hands of the United States justice system after being deported from Mexico on Thursday.

Couch fled to Mexico after a video emerged of him allegedly violating probation, which could have led to jail time. He was discovered in a Mexican resort town with his mother on December 29, a few weeks after missing a meeting with a probation officer. Both mother and son fought deportation before eventually being brought back to the United States. Ethan's mother, Tonya Couch, has been charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon for her role in her son’s flight.

Couch’s lawyer, Scott Brown, was quoted by CNN as saying that Couch would not fight a transfer to the adult system. "We are optimistic that Ethan can complete, successfully complete, his probation once he's transferred to adult court," he said.

If Couch is found guilty of violating his probation, he could be sentenced to up to 120 days in jail. A second violation offense would lead to up to 10 years in jail for each of the four deaths in the 2013 drunk-driving wreck that landed him in jail. Should he stay in juvenile court, he would become eligible for parole when he turns 19 in April.

Update: December 30, 2015, 12:15 p.m.:
“Affluenza” teen Ethan Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, have won a temporary stay against deportation from Mexico to Texas, according to Mexican officials.

Tarrant County, TX, Sheriff Dee Anderson told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the Couch family’s lawyer had filed a legal writ to prevent mother and son from leaving Mexico. They had been scheduled to return to the United States on a commercial flight on Wednesday morning.

“It’s just a continuing string of what we’ve seen all along,” Anderson said. “We’re patient people. We’ll be waiting.”

This story was originally published on December 30, 2015.

Ethan Couch, the teen who invoked “affluenza” as a defense after killing four people while drunk-driving, has been found and arrested in Mexico, according to the Associated Press.

Couch was found on Monday with his mother, Tonya Couch, in a beachside neighborhood in the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta. Mexican authorities worked with American agents to find and detain Couch, and he has been handed to immigration officials for deportation to the United States.

Couch was originally arrested in June of 2013 after an incident in Fort Worth, TX, when he ran his car into a broken-down SUV on the side of the road. The driver of the other car, as well as three people who had stopped to help, were all killed. Couch, then 16, had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit.

His case drew national attention during the trial sentencing, when his defense argued that Couch suffered from “affluenza,” and did not understand the consequences of his actions thanks to the shielding effects of his parents’ money. “Affluenza” is not recognized by the American Psychological Association as a legitimate disorder.

The judge in Couch's case sentenced the teen to probation.

Earlier this year, a video emerged on social media claiming to show Couch drinking alcohol at a party, which would have violated his probation. The video, which was posted to Twitter, showed several young men playing beer pong and was captioned, “ya boy ethan couch violating probation. i got more if u want” and tagged several law-enforcement agencies. Soon after, Couch and his mother disappeared. Authorities found their house emptied and passports missing, leading to speculation that the pair had left the country. Couch could now face 10 years in prison.

Couch is now 18 years old, and his case could be moved from juvenile court to adult court. A hearing after his 19th birthday in April will determine the next steps in this case.
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