'Affluenza Teen' Gets Nearly 2 Years In Jail

Apr 13, 2016
Originally published on April 13, 2016 4:23 pm

This post was updated at 4:15 p.m. ET

A Texas judge has sentenced Ethan Couch, whose lawyers notoriously presented an "affluenza" defense to argue that he wasn't responsible for killing four people when he was driving drunk, to nearly two years in jail.

District Judge Wayne Salvant has decided that Couch will be "jailed for 180 days on each of the four counts of intoxication manslaughter he faces," The Dallas Morning News reports.

The newspaper says Couch was "considered a juvenile until Monday, when he turned 19 and his case was officially transferred to the adult court system."

This is the latest development in a long-running case that began in 2013, when a juvenile court sentenced Couch to 10 years' probation for the deadly car crash. Couch avoided harsher punishment after his lawyers argued that his privileged upbringing and relationship with his parents meant he had never been held accountable for his actions. They dubbed this condition "affluenza," a term that sparked widespread derision.

Late last year, Couch and his mother, Tonya Couch, traveled across the border to Mexico but were later apprehended in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta. As the Two-Way reported in February:

"Couch fled the U.S. shortly after a video surfaced online purportedly showing him at a party where people were drinking alcoholic beverages. Consuming alcohol would break the terms of his probation.

"He then failed to appear at a mandatory appointment with his probation officer on Dec. 10, triggering an international manhunt. He and his mother were eventually taken into custody later that month in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta."

The Associated Press reports:

"Couch had always faced the prospect of adult jail time as part of his probation once his case had moved out of the juvenile system. Prosecutors didn't ask the judge to declare Couch had violated his juvenile probation by fleeing to Mexico with his mother last year, or to consider it in his ruling."

The Morning News reports that Salvant will also hear the case involving Tonya Couch, who the newspaper says has been charged with hindering apprehension of a fugitive.

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