A judge in Texas sentenced a 16-year-old to 10 years probation instead of jail time after his defense said he suffered from "affluenza."
An expert defense witness used the condition in the trial of the 16-year-old teenage driver, Ethan Couch, who after confessing to intoxication manslaughter in the fatal accident avoided what could have been a sentence of up to 20 years in prison when District Judge Jean Boyd gave him 10 years of probation.
"It certainly exists," said Valley psychiatrist Michael Yasinski, referring to the condition.
"It's typically a child that grows up in a relatively wealthy family, but really the key is parents that coddle and spoil a child to the point of never teaching them responsibility. It's never a justification - rather, it's an explanation for this phenomenon," he continued.
Criminal defense attorney Michael Black said the argument was bogus.
"Oh, it's ridiculous. You can't use that as a defense in a criminal case," he said.
Black says judges in Texas are elected, and the judge in this case should be worried about the next election.
"She better start counting the ballots right now, because with that type of sentence, you can bet at least MADD will be campaigning against her," he stated.
Even so, Black said he does not think this decision sets precedence since the case did not and likely won't reach Texas' highest court.
"It sets no precedent whatsoever in Texas and it's absolutely no use here, and you'd get laughed out of court if you used that here," he said.
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