FORT WORTH, TX – Legal experts believe that the Texas teen who cited
the “affluenza” defense in a fatal drunk driving crash may
be trying to delay his deportation to the United States by claiming that
his human rights were violated by Mexican authorities.
Ethan Couch, 18, successfully delayed his deportation to the U.S. based
on his constitutional appeal in Mexico. Now, the trial process could take months.
According to J. Lopez de Obeso, a San Antonio licensed to practice in Mexico,
if there is any flaw in Couche’s detention process by the immigration
authorities in Mexico, it could be considered a violation of his human
rights and due process.
Lopez said that if the Mexican immigration authorities fail to act properly,
then Couch can find a way to stay in Mexico longer.
If the judge considering Couche’s appeal decides that there was an
error Couche’s detention process, then he could be released and
he would have to be re-arrested, said Lopez.
Under the treaties between U.S. and Mexico, the Mexican authorities must
abide by Couch’s warrant from the U.S., so unless the “affluenza”
teen decides to file for asylum, he cannot stay in Mexico for an indefinite
period of time.
Asylum is only granted to people who have a reasonable fear of persecution
and it’s questionable whether “affluenza” would qualify.
U.S. authorities believe that Couch fled to Mexico with his mother in late
November after a video surfaced, showing Couch at a party where alcohol
was being served – a violation of his probation.
The mother and son duo were arrested on Dec. 28 at a condominium complex
in Puerto Vallarta after they placed a call, ordering pizza delivery,
which was traced to their hideout.
In 2013, when Couch was 16, he received 10 years’ probation for a
drunk driving wreck that killed four people and injured several others,
including his passengers. Couch pleaded guilty to two counts of
intoxication assault causing serious bodily injury and four counts of
During the teen’s trial, a defense expert argued that he suffered
from “affluenza” because his wealthy parents coddled him too
much, making him irresponsible.
Much to the prosecutors’ dismay, Judge Jean Boyd sentenced Couch
to probation instead of the 20 years’ detention that they were asking
for. If Couch had been tried as an adult, he could been sentenced to 20
years in prison for intoxication manslaughter, a second-degree felony.
His mother, Tonya Couch, 48, was deported back to the U.S. on Dec. 31.
She has been charged with hindering an apprehension, which carries a 2
to 10-year sentence. She is being held on a $1 million bond.
Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson intends to ask the judge
to have Couch’s case transferred to adult court. In she is successful,
he would get four months in adult jail and 10 years of probation. If he
were to violate his
probation again, he could face up to 10 years in prison for each death.
Couche’s probation violation hearing is scheduled for Jan. 19.
For criminal defense representation in Plano, Dallas or Fort Worth,
contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm.