If you’re a follower of this blog or interesting court cases in general, you probably remember the name Ethan Crouch, or how he’s sometimes better known as, the “affluenza” teen.
Back in 2013, Couch got behind the wheel while driving drunk and killed four people in a crash. Couch was 16 at the time of the incident, and his attorneys put forth an interesting defense at his trial. Couch’s attorneys argued that he was affected by affluenza, or that his irresponsible behavior was caused by his upbringing and his family wealth. In other words, Couch was battling a physiological disorder that drove him to make a poor decision that day.
Couch could have been sentenced to 20 years in jail, but the presiding judge agreed that there were some mental health factors at play and instead sentenced him to 10 years of probation. You might remember his name resurfacing a few years later after Couch was found in violation of his probation by attending a party where alcohol was served. Instead of owning up to the mistake, Couch and his mother fled to Mexico. He was detained a few weeks later and eventually sentenced to two years in prison. He was released from jail in 2018.
Back In Trouble Again
When we saw that the word “affluenza” was trending on Twitter, we assumed Couch was back in the headlines. According to the latest report, Couch was arrested on Thursday after probation officers reported that a drug monitoring patch that he wears returned a weak positive result for the presence of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. However, it’s possible that the detection was set off by CBD oil, so further testing will soon take place.
Couch’s lawyers say their client is changed man and that he’s “committed to his sobriety and to remaining compliant with all of the terms and conditions imposed by the court.”
Couch is expected to be released from Fort Worth jail while further testing takes place.
We’ll hold off judgment until that further testing is released, but this entire case is a clear example of why mental health counseling needs to be better integrated into our criminal justice system. Regardless of whether or not you buy the affluenza defense, killing four people in a drunk driving accident is going to wear heavy on a person’s mind. If that person has already shown a propensity for poor decisions, it’s only a matter of time before guilt or other emotions take over and another poor decision is made.
On a less extreme level, we see clients on a daily basis who would benefit from mental health counseling in the wake of their case. Oftentimes it’s something we recommend to our clients, because we know how beneficial it can be. It would be great if the court system began prioritizing mental health and helping offenders get the assistance they need to make better choices in life. It might be costly up front, but it would certainly help cut recidivism rates.
If you need legal help after an incident or want assistance finding a mental health counselor based on your specific circumstances, look no further than Appelman Law Firm. Contact our office today for more information.