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"Affluenza" -- Poor parenting a viable legal defense?

  1. kbdressman profile image92
    kbdressmanposted 15 months ago

    Ethan Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation and treatment after drinking and causing an accident that killed four people.  His lawyers said Couch suffered from "affluenza," a condition that resulted from having grown up with rich parents and not ever having had limits set for him. 

    Is there a place for "affluenza" to be a legitimate defense?  Was this it?  Even if "affluenza" was to blame, was the judge's sentence appropriate?  Or, did his sentence allow him to shift the blame for his bad behavior to someone else, and cause further damage?   

    (To see the latest in Ethan's case:  http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Police … B_DFWBrand )

    1. Learn Things Web profile image91
      Learn Things Webposted 15 months ago in reply to this

      It doesn't make sense to me. If you were raised by parents who did set limits but you drove drunk and killed people you would go to jail but if you were raised by parents who didn't set limits you'd get probation? How is that even fair? I'm sure too that most people who suffer from "affluenza" will never kill anyone.

      1. kbdressman profile image92
        kbdressmanposted 15 months ago in reply to this

        You bring up good points.  Isn't lightening the sentence just continuing the problem?  "Oh, you've never had a consequence before, so you don't know right and wrong.  It'd be mean to give you a consequence...."

        It also makes me question what the purpose of the legal system is.  This sentence won't rehabilitate this individual.  This sentence doesn't bring closure to the families of the victim.  This sentence doesn't keep the perpetrator off the streets....what does it do?

    2. Credence2 profile image83
      Credence2posted 15 months ago in reply to this

      Affluenza? that is not a defense, but an excuse.

      The sentence is appropriate, we have to crack down on drunk drivers. Driving under the influence is premeditation in the commission of vehicle homicide in my opinion.

      1. kbdressman profile image92
        kbdressmanposted 15 months ago in reply to this

        Just to make sure I understand, you think only 10 years probation is sufficient for this situation?  And therefore, 10 years probation is sufficient for 4 counts of premeditated vehicular homicide?

        1. Credence2 profile image83
          Credence2posted 15 months ago in reply to this

          This is a first time offense and it magnitude would make one desire that the penalty by greater. The system accomodates this sort of offense with lower sentencing because it is not considered premeditated, like deliberately shooting someone.

          I am not saying that this is good or bad, but that how it has been done. I have to take into consideration the fact that the perp was a minor at the time the crime was committed.

          I could be wrong, without detail study of the nature of similar cases like it.

          So, what do you think that the sentence should be? Should he be forced to have done time in juvie and after reaching the age of majority continue his sentence there? How many years in the klink do you think are appropriate?

    3. rhamson profile image77
      rhamsonposted 15 months ago in reply to this

      The only good that can come from this at this point is that he will be found and sent back to jail....hopefully? But what is even better is that I understand his mother is on the run with him. Now she can join him in aiding and abetting a wanted fugitive.

      1. kbdressman profile image92
        kbdressmanposted 15 months ago in reply to this

        Exactly, rhamson!  If someone can use afluenza as a defense, shouldn't it have also been used as an offense on why the parents should be partially responsible for the 4 deaths?  It seems like we shouldn't have one without the other.

    4. Live to Learn profile image81
      Live to Learnposted 15 months ago in reply to this

      "Nowhere in this process did Ethan ever say to the families, to the court, 'I'm so sorry for what happened,'" said Boyles. "Nowhere did Ethan express any remorse or anything."

      That, to me, is why the answer is no. The sentence was not appropriate. Many times, when a person causes harm to another they will punish themselves worse by their own guilt than any punishment the courts could ever impose. Here we have a case where a rich kid kills others and the defense is, poor him it's not his fault because he led a privileged life? I think the court simply allowed him to believe his lack of consideration was justified.  I think his subsequent actions are evidence of how inappropriate the sentence was.

      Texas is a strange state. They'll execute anyone for any infraction then they acquit a rich guy who kills someone and stuffs them into a suitcase and pat a teen on the hand telling him it isn't his fault  he killed four people because he's rich.  I suppose it pays to be rich in Texas.

      1. Credence2 profile image83
        Credence2posted 15 months ago in reply to this

        Texas sucks, let me count the ways!!

      2. kbdressman profile image92
        kbdressmanposted 15 months ago in reply to this

        Leaves one to question what the point of the judicial system is, doesn't it?  The kid didn't learn, the families didn't get either an apology or justice, the kid was still on the streets where he could hurt someone else...what was accomplished in this case? I think you're exactly right, Live to Learn.  You make a good point.

  2. ahorseback profile image46
    ahorsebackposted 15 months ago

    Whether it's a legal defense or not , its a  true plague in America ,     Be proud though , you hit on something here !       If I were to have tried to invent a viable defense for a crime , this would be todays  perfection .

    1. kbdressman profile image92
      kbdressmanposted 15 months ago in reply to this

      I agree it's a problem.  It's interesting to see how we define delinquency.  We don't want to punish people for biological, mental and social factors beyond their control, but there has to be a line somewhere between not punishing people for outside factors and not taking care of delinquency at all!

      1. Credence2 profile image83
        Credence2posted 15 months ago in reply to this

        I can't believe you guys, there have been serial killers and loathsome murderers that have been executed and most certainly many have had difficult childhood experience. They all went to the gallows, abusive parents or no. Why are we even entertaining this idea? I am not giving any consideration to the plight of this person just because he was pampered too much growing up and gagged on his silver spoon!!!

        1. kbdressman profile image92
          kbdressmanposted 15 months ago in reply to this

          Credence2, I didn't say I agreed with the judge's choice.  I think that there may have been a parenting issue here, I don't, however, think that that parenting issue gives this kid the right to kill 4 people and not have consequences.

          1. Credence2 profile image83
            Credence2posted 15 months ago in reply to this

            Understood, KB, but there is never a parenting issue to consider if the perpetrator is at the age of majority at time the crime is committed. I just don't see it as a consideration in prosecution or sentencing at any level.

            I am sorry, was this fellow only 16? If thats the case, the circumstances change, as a minor, he is entitled to some leniency. I don't know how that would be measured or what is should be. His parents are accessories to the crime and should be made to pay some sort of damages to the aggrieved families involved. Parents must assume responsibility for their minor children.

            1. kbdressman profile image92
              kbdressmanposted 15 months ago in reply to this

              He was only 16 at the time of the accident.  Now that he's violated his probation he's 18, which is why some are calling for this case to be moved to adult court.

              Should a 16 year old be able to put his mistake on his parents?  And, if they can be held responsible enough for his actions for him to get out of a jail sentence, then should they be facing legal charges as well?

              1. Credence2 profile image83
                Credence2posted 15 months ago in reply to this

                Yes, since he has violated the terms of his probation, I believe now that he is 18 that his case should go to an adult court. He had a chance to stay clean while he was in the less severe juvenile system, but he blew it.

                No, the 16 year old is not completely absolved of responsibility for his actions and should be punished independently. Yes, as I said before the parents are accessories. The issuance of minor driver's licenses presumes parental responsiblity and subsequent liability for the action of the teen driver.

  3. Live to Learn profile image81
    Live to Learnposted 15 months ago

    This whole thing seems so indicative of what is wrong in America today. Too much money is cause for us to coddle defendants and attempt to convince ourselves they haven't done anything wrong; too little money is cause for us to shove people in prison and think suspected criminals who are poor have no reason for us to be concerned if they die in the hands of the police.

    Money. It certainly turns our heads. Or, maybe it's just a case of too many lawyers grubbing for money.

    1. rhamson profile image77
      rhamsonposted 15 months ago in reply to this

      Money is one way we are all equal in this society. If you have it does not matter if you are black or white. Look at O.J. as an example of enough money to beat a historically heinous crime of black on white crime. He was able to beat a stereotypical death warrant with it.

  4. LauraD093 profile image84
    LauraD093posted 15 months ago

    I can remember this case back when it was a big news story. It was a ridiculous defense-but it worked. Shows the climate in our society where having money and being excused for the death of 4 people by poor parenting is an acceptable norm. Wow he screwed up yet again (although murdering 4 people goes beyond screwing up in my estimation) and a video leaked and once again it is a big story and taxpayers will foot the bill for searching for him. I'm so surprised!  This little wack-job should have been imprisoned-I wonder what the woman's defense will be who recently killed a woman in Vegas and injured 35-(three seriously?) Will it be "Non-Affluenza?" Give me a break!

    1. kbdressman profile image92
      kbdressmanposted 15 months ago in reply to this

      You bring up an interesting point with "non-affluenza."  "I wanted it and I didn't have it" would suddenly be an acceptable defense for theft.  And at that point....we'd have a free for all.

      One of the purposes of the US justice system is to correct problems and rehabilitate people.  CLEARLY that wasn't accomplished.  Even if affluenza was acceptable, shouldn't there have been mandatory counseling, coursework, LOADS of community service, etc?  And, if affluenza is the problem....doesn't that mean the mom is guilty? 

      There were LOTS of loop holes in this ruling and defense, imho!

    2. rhamson profile image77
      rhamsonposted 15 months ago in reply to this

      It is the epitome of the "it's not my fault" generations we are raising. Shame on us for this travesty.

  5. Stacie L profile image87
    Stacie Lposted 15 months ago

    Well since he disappeared with his mother to Mexico, he has shown his true colors.
    The Mexican authorities are sending them back to the states and I hope some new judge will do the right thing!
    Both need to spend some time paying for the death of four innocent lives and not using their money and influence to avoid punishment.

    1. kbdressman profile image92
      kbdressmanposted 15 months ago in reply to this

      I'm glad extradition is happening! Running to Mexico did prove the previous defense attorney's point that the mother has no moral compass, sense of justice, or ability to live with the consequences of her actions.  And, it's probably pretty hard for someone with no moral compass to teach someone else how to use one.  However, I completely agree with you that that doesn't excuse the fact that 4 people died.  Death has consequences, whether we're accustomed to facing them or not!

      But....since the kid has had no opportunities to learn accountability, lets absolve him of any consequences for this choice too!  Good job, judge and jury.  Way to perpetuate the problem!

  6. promisem profile image94
    promisemposted 15 months ago

    Based on what I read about the parents, they really weren't that rich. Affluenza was the silly invention of their lawyer to get their son freed.

 
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