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Affluenza Defendant Returns to United States after Arrest in Mexico

Many likely remember the case of a teen driver who was found guilty on four counts of drunk driving manslaughter, reckless driving, and other alcohol-related driving infractions and criminal charges, and then argued that he should not serve time in prison because he suffered a condition they were calling affluenza.

1316049_untitledEssentially, defendant, through his counsel, argued that he came from an extremely wealthy family, and his parents taught him that if you have money, you can get anything and do anything you want, because wealth buys privilege. They then went on to argue that as result of this mental health condition, he could not appreciate the wrongness of his actions that night he decided to drive drunk and that decision proved fatal.  

While many were offended by this line of defense at the sentencing phase of his trial, it apparently worked well enough, and he was given ten years of probation instead of going to prison. Since he was underage anyway, the judge made it a condition of his probation that he check in regularly and not drink any alcohol.

However, his probation officer eventually lost contact with defendant and issued a violation of probation report with the judge, who ultimately issued a bench warrant for the arrest of defendant. Last month, he was located, along with his mother, in Mexico, where he was found drinking alcohol. It was also a condition of his probation, as in the case for nearly all defendants, that all international travel must be cleared with the probation department.

For this reason, when the Mexican authorities arrested defendant, his mother was also arrested for aiding a fugitive. She has subsequently been released on bail according to a recent report from UPI, but her charges are still pending.   It should be noted that defendant has not been found to have violated his probation as of this time, as all violations are still alleged. However, it will not require a finding of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but a lower standard of clear and convincing evidence. If a violation is found, he will likely face years in prison. It should also be noted that his mother had not been convicted of any crime in connection with her recent arrest and is innocent unless and until she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

While the defense of affluenza was offensive to many, it is unlikely that it would work a second time during a revocation of probation hearing, but anything is possible. There are a variety of reasons people were offended by the concept of affluenza as a real thing, and many of those reasons involve a feeling that the rich can get away with anything. However, it is the concept of not being able to appreciate the wrongfulness of one’s conduct that Boston drunk driving accident lawyers would take issue with first.

The decision to drive drunk is one that can not only result in an arrest, but can result in the serious injury or death of innocent people who were unfortunate enough to be out walking or driving at the same time the drunk driver was on the road. There can be no question about how devastating a drunk driving accident can be to victims and their families.

If you have been injured in a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

‘Affluenza’ teen Couch returns to U.S. a month after Mexico arrest, January 28, 2016, UPI, By Doug G. Ware

More Blog Entries:

Alleged Drunk Driver Crashes into Saugus, Massachusetts Home, Aug. 21, 2014, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog