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Affluenza teen's flight may mean harsher sentences for others

Many Ohioans are probably familiar with Ethan Couch, the Texas teenager who had a drunk driving accident in which four people were killed. In his case, the attorneys argued that he suffered from something they termed "affluenza" syndrome, a condition that is not recognized by psychologists.

According to his lawyers, Mr. Couch was unable to tell the difference between right and wrong because of his wealthy upbringing. DUI manslaughter normally results in prison sentences of between 10 and 20 years, and the prosecutors in his case argued that he should be given 20 years. Instead, the judge accepted his lawyers' arguments and sentenced Mr. Couch to 10 years of probation along with rehab. The sentence was extraordinarily lenient, and it was far less than what most other people who face similar charges receive.

Mr. Couch has now fled after a video of him drinking at a party was found. The drinking is a probation violation. The case has made national news, meaning that judges across the country may be less likely to use their judicial discretion to give people charged with other offenses lesser sentences in their own cases. This is unfortunate, as there are many people who have valid mitigating circumstances that should warrant reduced sentencing.

People who have been issued criminal charges may have circumstances that led them to commit the offense. Those who are in this position may want to tell their criminal defense attorney both what occurred as well as what led to the incident. The attorney may then be able to thoroughly investigate the client's case in order to help build a strong defense to the charges.

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