California bill seeks to ban ‘affluenza’ defense

A California Democrat introduced a bill in the state Legislature Tuesday that would ban people from using extreme affluence, or “affluenza,” as a defense in criminal court.

The move comes after 16-year-old Ethan Couch from Fort Worth, Texas, received 10 years of probation after he drove drunk and crashed his pickup truck, killing four people.


SEE ALSO: Teen who killed four drunk-driving gets probation on ‘affluenza’ defense


The teen’s attorneys argued that affluence and a lack of boundaries set by Couch’s parents led to his reckless behavior that night.

A psychologist testified that Couch was the product of “affluenza,” and District Judge Jean Boyd agreed, giving him only 10 years probation.

Now, Assemblyman Mike Gatto is saying enough is enough.

“Perhaps the notion of personal responsibility seems antiquated to some,” he said in a news release, CNN reported. “But I think the majority of us believe that people should own up to their actions, and that criminals should not be able to use their wealth or privilege to lessen the severity of their sentences. Spoiled children shouldn’t be able to spoil the chances of victims to obtain justice when a criminal act has occurred.”

AB 1508, “would forbid a judge or jury from reducing the sentence of a defendant who claims that being raised in a wealthy or excessively lenient household somehow explains or absolves that defendant’s guilt,” according to the news release.

The bill specifically states, “Circumstances in mitigation of the punishment prescribed by law shall not include the fact that the defendant may not have understood the consequences of his or her actions because he or she was raised in an affluent or overly permissive household,” CNN reported.

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