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Man who got off on "affluenza" defense on the run


New Jersey residents may be familiar with the case of Ethan Couch, the young man who successfully used an "affluenza" defense to avoid a prison sentence after killing four people in a drunk driving accident. Affluenza is a term Couch's lawyers coined for their client's mental state leading up to the crash. They argued that he was so spoiled by his parents that he lacked the capacity to understand the consequences of drinking and driving. The judge bought it, giving him 10 years probation and ordering him into alcohol rehab.

At the time of Couch's sentencing, many legal experts were skeptical of the affluenza defense, and the latest twist in the story has intensified that criticism. A video recently surfaced showing Couch drinking at a party, violating the terms of his probation. In response, he went on the run to avoid the consequences.

Criminal defense experts say there are many defendants who deserve leniency from judges, and Couch's case could prompt courts to come down more harshly on people who, unlike Couch, could do something with their lives if given a second chance. For example, a single mom was charged with child neglect for going to work and leaving her preteen kids alone after the babysitter stood her up. She could use a second chance. There was also the case of a battered woman who faced charges for fighting back against her abusive spouse. She could use some leniency. When Couch is caught, many experts hope the judge makes an example of him, so that more deserving defendants can win the opportunity to rebuild their lives.

There are many New Jersey defendants who deserve a second chance, and a criminal defenseattorney could help them get one. Individuals charged with assault, drug possession, parole violations or other crimes could learn more about their legal options by consulting with a legal professional.

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