Ethan Couch, also known as the “Affluenza” teen, made national headlines in 2013 due to his involvement in a car accident that resulted in the death of four people. Couch, who was 16 at the time of the accident, became known as the “Affluenza” teen after his lawyers successfully argued that he suffered from affluenza—a supposed psychological illness that affects rich youth, rendering them spoiled and incapable of comprehending the consequences of their actions.
His lawyers claimed that, because of his affluenza, Couch needed rehabilitation instead of prison. Affluenza is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association.
The Original Story
On the night of the accident, video surveillance captured Couch stealing beer from a convenience store. He also had a blood alcohol content of 0.24, which is three times the legal limit in Texas, and traces of Valium in his system. Despite being responsible for the death of four people, Couch received a 10-year probation sentence and didn’t have to do any jail time. Couch’s sentence caused a public uproar because many people felt the judge was too lenient by sentencing him to probation instead of jail.
Despite the favorable sentence, Couch didn’t stay out of the news for long. In December 2015, Couch and his mother, Tonya, disappeared after a video surfaced that appeared to show him drinking alcohol at a party. If he was drinking, it would have been a violation of the terms of his probation and put him at risk of being sent to jail. After his disappearance, law enforcement officials issued a warrant for Couch’s arrest. The authorities found Couch and his mother at a resort in Mexico, where they were arrested on December 28, 2015.
Couch’s Mother Arrested
Couch’s mother was deported back to Texas and is currently being held in jail on a $1 million bond for hindering the apprehension of a felon. A search warrant of Tonya Couch’s bank and phone records found that she withdrew $30,000 from a personal account before fleeing to Mexico with her son. According to authorities, Tonya Couch called her ex-husband Fred Couch on December 3 and told him that he would never see them again. Fred and Tonya Couch divorced in 2006 and authorities said there is no evidence that he helped his ex-wife and son flee.
On January 8, 2016, a court ordered Tonya Couch to complete a mental exam, citing reasonable cause that she suffers from mental illness and may not be fit to stand trial.
Will Couch return to the U.S.?
While U.S. authorities have Tonya Couch in custody, Ethan Couch is still in Mexican custody after his lawyer successfully delayed his deportation back to Texas by arguing that he hadn’t broken any Mexican laws. Legal experts believe Couch will eventually be deported back to Texas, but there’s no information on how long it will take the Mexican government to send him back to the United States.
When Ethan Couch is returned to the U.S., he will spend some time in jail for violating the terms of his probation. However, it is unclear how much time he will do. In the meantime, the Tarrant County District Attorney requested that Ethan Couch be moved out of the juvenile justice system to the adult criminal system. On January 11, 2016, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) issued a petition supporting this request.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI, do not flee the country. Contact the Law Offices of Chad Maddox for a proper representation and to defend your legal rights. Mr. Maddox is one of the few Orange County DUI Lawyers who practices DUI law exclusively. Call today for a free consultation.