A judge in 2013 sentenced a North Texas teen, Ethan Couch, to 10 years’ probation for driving under the influence and killing 4 pedestrians. The teen’s attorney used the “Affluenza” defense.
Couch was caught on videotape stealing beer from a store. He then got into his father’s Ford F-350 with 7 passengers and was driving 70 mph in a 40 mph zone…all this with a blood alcohol level of .24 (3 times the legal limit) and Valium in his system. In April 2016 a judge sentenced him to 720 days in jail after he violated his probation. The 20-year-old was released from prison in April of 2018.
The Oxford Dictionary defines affluenza (a combination of affluence and influenza) as: “a psychological malaise supposedly affecting young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation.” The teen’s defense attorney argued that the “spoiled rich syndrome”, also called the “silver spoon syndrome”, affected his capacity to distinguish right from wrong.
Those with affluenza usually have excessive wealth, such as “The Bling Ring”, and can also be in constant pursuit of more material things.
In this case, it’s possible that the teen’s parents never taught him that bad behavior = consequences and taught him that with money comes privilege.
Is it peer pressure or have some parents just lost the power or the interest in teaching their children right from wrong? Sometime take a few minutes and look up the “Twinkie Defense”. This is another interesting defense that saved a person from a murder rap and changed it to voluntary manslaughter. This was in the murder of supervisor Harvey Milk and mayor George Moscone.
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Have you ever heard of the affluenza defense?