Affluenza Defense - No Consequences for the Rich

by candy47

Affluenza has actually been argued as a legal defense for rich kids who apparently don't know there are consequences to their actions.

Because of financial status, those afflicted with affluenza don't have the ability to realize or understand when they have done something wrong or more importantly committed a crime; that is the claim of some psychologists and criminal defense attorneys. In the 2013 high-profile case of Ethan Couch, a 16 year old from Texas, affluenza was used as his legal defense after he killed four people with his truck.

above photo: Pixabay

Ethan Couch

and his family

Born April 11, 1997 to Fred and Tanya Couch of Fort Worth, Texas; his parents divorced in 2007. Fred Couch owns Cleburne Sheet Metal in Fort Worth, the company has approximately 30 employees and a yearly revenue turnover estimated at $15 million.


Fred Couch has a police record of his own, prior to Ethan's, which includes criminal mischief, theft by check and assault, but the charges were dismissed. In 2014 Fred was arrested for impersonating a police officer.


In February 2013 before his sixteenth birthday, Ethan was charged with 'minor in possession and consumption of alcohol'. He received probation, 12 hours community service and mandatory attendance in an alcohol awareness class.

Affluenza - No Consequences for the Rich
Affluenza - No Consequences for the Rich
Photo source - Pixabay

The Crash - Saturday June 15, 2013

According to testimony at the trial, Ethan Couch was seen on video stealing two cases of beer from a local store, driving his father's pick-up truck with seven passengers, and speeding at 70 mph in a 40 mph zone.


About an hour after stealing the beer, Couch was again speeding at 70 mph in his father's truck on a country road where he came upon a stalled SUV. Two local residents walked out to the SUV to offer assistance, a passing motorist stopped and got out of his car also to help.


As Couch approached in his speeding pick-up he slammed into the stalled SUV, then plowed into the passing motorists car which in turn hit an oncoming vehicle. Couch's truck flipped over and hit a tree. The owner of the SUV, the passing motorist and the two local residents were killed.

Couch and his seven teenage passengers survived. Three hours later Couch's blood-alcohol level tested at 0.24, three times the legal limit in Texas, he also tested positive for Valium.

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Affluenza as a Legal Defense

At trial a psychologist, hired by the defense, testified that Ethan Couch was a product of 'affluenza' stating that he could not connect his irresponsible behavior with consequences because his parents set an example that wealth buys privilege.


In December 2013 Judge Jean Boyd sentenced Ethan Couch to 10 years probation for killing four people and injuring several others. Couch was also required to attend a rehabilitation facility.

UPDATE - APRIL 13, 2016

Ethan Couch has been sentenced to 2 years in prison.  That's 6 months for each of the four people he killed!  There might be more jail time says the judge.



Ethan Couch and his mother have been captured in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and are being detained by Mexican authorities while awaiting arrival of U.S. Marshals.



After a video appeared on the internet showing Ethan Couch playing beer pong with several friends in direct violation of his probation, he is on the run with his mother Tanya. They took all their belongings from their rental home and fled. Tarrant County police and the FBI have joined forces in the search for the fugitive Couch and his mother. Let's hope they find him and this time put him in prison where he belongs for a long, long time. His mother should also be charged with something for helping her son flee.

Judge Jean Boyd is no longer a judge.

Do you think affluenza is an acceptable legal defense?


Six lawsuits were filed by families of the victims. Five of the lawsuits were settled and one is awaiting trial.

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Updated: 08/18/2017, candy47
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candy47 on 08/02/2015

Well said CruiseReady!

candy47 on 08/02/2015

You are so right frankbeswick. I hope Ethan Couch receives the proper psychological treatment at the rehab center.

CruiseReady on 08/02/2015

I remember this case. Affluenza is an outrageous defense, and should never be allowed. Individual responsibility does not end where affluence begins!

frankbeswick on 08/02/2015

We must not make the mistake of medicalizing all explanation of bad behaviour. Affluenza is a moral fault, not a disease. A disease is a limiting condition caused often by the presence of an external agent in the a person's psycho-physical system. Affluenza is not thus caused.

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