The “Coddled” Defense

It is common knowledge, as evidenced by prior posts I’ve written on the subject, that I really despise drunk drivers. I find the specific crime analogous to firing a loaded gun into a building, sure,odds are you won’t hit anyone and there is no direct intent to kill, but there is that chance that your action will injure or even kill another person and it could have been avoided.

DUI laws have changed over the years. I remember when .10 was the legal limit and offenders would only be charged a fine, then be sent of their way. Now-days, one size does not fit all, the legal limit for adults is different then it is for minors, and different for ruck drivers or those operating commercial rigs. Penalties and fines have also changed in attempt to deter, drivers licenses are now suspended for 6 months, alcohol treatment is mandatory, insurance rates sky rocket and the minimum fine levied is a thousand bucks (all this is standard in California, where I live, other states have different levels of punishment).

But our laws are bush league compared to the rest of the world;

In some countries, drinking and driving is punishable by death. A first time offense in El Salvador leads to execution by firing squad, while a second offense in Bulgaria also leads to execution.

In France, drinking and driving is punishable by the equivalent of a $1,000 fine, imprisonment for one year, and loss of license for three years. Finland and Sweden automatically sentence drunk drivers to one-year jail sentences including hard labor. In Norway, a drunk driver is jailed for three weeks with hard labor and loses their license for a year. If they do it again, they lose their license forever. In South Africa, drinking and driving results in a ten-year prison sentence or the equivalent of a $10,000 fine and, in some cases, both.

In Canada, the first drinking and driving offense warrants loss of license for one year and the equivalent of a $600 fine. The second offense warrants two weeks in jail and loss of license for two years. The third offense warrants three months in jail and loss of license for three years. After the fourth, they might just send you to America.

In England, a drunk driver pays the equivalent of a $250 fine, spends a year in jail, and then loses their license for one year. In Russia, drunk drivers simply lose their license for life. Yes, even Russia has laws against drinking and driving.

Which brings us to a snot nose kid named Ethan Couch;

In June, 16-year-old Ethan Couch plowed his pickup truck into two vehicles parked on the side of a Texas highway, killing four people and injuring nine. The teenager, who had stolen beer from a local Walmart earlier in the day, had a blood alcohol level of 0.24 three times the legal limit for an adult.

Media pundits, outraged citizens and the families of the deceased are now howling for justice after Couch got a relatively lenient sentence: 10 years’ probation, plus a stint at a high-priced private counseling center in California, paid for by Couch’s wealthy father, according to KHOU.

I never knew that there was a legal term for being a snot nosed punk who thinks his shit don’t stink, thinks rules apply to others not him, and that he is somehow special (I know what you’re thinking, isn’t that the very definition of a liberal, quit it)

The case also brought renewed attention to the term “affluenza,” a popular term for a non-medical condition marked by irresponsibility, reckless behavior, casual sex, substance abuse and the all-around obnoxious, antisocial conduct seen in some wealthy people and, especially, their kids.

Where do they get this crap? The boy was raised in a rich family, coddled all his life, given whatever he wanted and had no understanding of boundaries, of right and wrong, he did not posses the mechanism of self control or the wherewithal to determine unlawful or anti social behavior, ridiculous.

Essentially this kid is not being punished at all. Being sent to rehab facility (where other like minded spoiled brats go) hardly seems like a sacrifice.

Given the judge’s record of sending the black kid to jail for 10 years, for doing something less heinous and causing less loss of life, I’m curious as to how she rationalizes her sentence for Couch.

Sentencing juveniles is always fraught with peril. In California even if you give a juvenile a life sentence, once they turn 24, they get released, that’s just the way it is. I think at the very least this kid should do a couple years behind bars.

It’s hard to know just how rich this family is. Owning a successful business in and of itself does not indicate vast wealth. Maybe they should be congratulated on coming up with such an off the wall defense that it kept their kid out of jail.

Personally, I hope that paying off all the wrongful death judgments bankrupts the parents to the point that whatever inheritance junior would have gotten, that is only a memory to the point where he has to work like the rest of us, so much for the “entitled” life.

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  1. Hal_10000

    This reminds me of some of the arguments made in court about why X shouldn’t get the death penalty. The defense will often say, “well, he couldn’t help it” because he was abused or neglected or on drugs or whatever. But to me, the argument of “he can’t help but kill” makes the case for execution, not against. If someone is literally incapable of not killing, why should we let such a person live?

    By the same token, if this kid is saying he couldn’t help but drunk drive and kill people because of his wealthy upbringing, that’s all the more reason to lock him up in prison so he can’t hurt anyone. Is his affluence going to make him rape women when he wants sex? Or kill when he’s mad at someone? Or shove children into traffic when they annoy him?

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  2. Aussiesmurf

    My colleague here in Australia acted for a defendant (guilty plea) with regard to the charge of ‘Culpable driving’. This charge is essentially ‘KIlled someone by being a dumbass while behind the wheel’ – whether through drink / drug driving, speed, running a red light, etc.

    Circumstances similiar to here, although the accused was an adult.

    Sentence? 7 years, with 5 year minimum term. The defendant had good representation (my colleague ain’t cheap) but this sort of sentence is fairly ‘standard’.

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