A Predictable Outcome to a Lenient DWI Manslaughter Sentence
Ethan Couch got a second chance in December 2013 after he killed four people and injured several others in a horrific DWI crash in Burleson. I represented a high school student who was thrown from the bed of his truck and suffered severe brain damage. I attended Couch’s trial to obtain evidence for my civil lawsuit and was in the courtroom when the judge pronounced the shocking sentence of 10 years probation. Everyone was outraged. The story went viral.
All Couch had to do was go to a juvenile center for a year, not drink, not use drugs, not drive, and report to his probation officer. A slap on the wrist, right?
My young client, on the other hand, will tragically never be able to move or speak again.
Not surprisingly, Couch has violated his probation. First a video surfaced showing him apparently drinking and playing beer pong. Then he failed to meet with his probation officer or give a urine sample. Now the “affluenza” teen and his mother have vanished. This story is again international news.
A warrant has been issued for Couch’s arrest. Officers are searching for him and his mother who also faces criminal charges. Everyone wants to see them caught and punished.
Killing four people and destroying the life of my client was not enough to stop Couch. He had the chance to turn his life around and show the world how sorry he was for his actions. Instead he chose to continue partying and brush off the legal system that was surprisingly willing to give him a second chance.
What initially appeared to be an unreasonably liberal sentence might make more sense now. Perhaps the judge knew that it was just a matter of time before this spoiled kid broke his probation. After all, D Magazine called his parents the “Worst Parents Ever” in its June cover story.
After the sentencing two years ago, I was concerned that it would send a message to the public that driving drunk does not carry serious legal consequences. Most people thought that Couch was too rich to jail.
Hopefully, Couch will be caught and sentenced, justice will prevail, and the gravity of driving drunk will be reinforced. Stay tuned.