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Mother of Teen Who Claimed “Affluenza” as Defense in DWI Crash Allegedly Helped Son Flee Country

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Mother of Teen Who Claimed “Affluenza” as Defense in DWI Crash Allegedly Helped Son Flee Country

June 14, 2016

Tonya Couch, mother of Ethan Couch, the teen who made national headlines after avoiding jail time in a fatal DWI accident case by claiming that he had “affluenza,” has been charged with multiple crimes after allegedly helping her son flee the country.

On June 15, 2013, then-16-year-old Ethan Couch killed four people after leaving a party in Texas. Ethan Couch was allegedly drunk when he collided with a parked car and killed the vehicle occupants. Additionally, two other people were injured as a result of the tragic car accident.

Police investigators later determined that Ethan Couch’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was three times the legal limit in Texas.

The idea behind Ethan Couch’s “affluenza” defense was that he could not be held responsible for his actions on the night of the fatal car crash because he was psychologically damaged and unable to tell right from wrong.

Fleeing to Mexico in Order to Avoid Jail

Ethan Couch initially avoided jail time for his fatal DWI accident. However, the judge in the case placed severe restrictions on Ethan Couch as part of his parole requirements.

Remarkably, the judge in the vehicular homicide case seemed to buy the affluenza defense. Although Ethan Couch was found guilty of intoxication manslaughter, he was ultimately sentenced to probation instead of getting jail time.

The period of his probation was set to last for 10 years. During that time, Ethan Couch would be required to avoid alcohol and drugs.

In December 2015, Ethan Couch got into trouble with his probation officer when authorities became aware of a video showing Couch drinking alcohol at a party. Instead of dealing with the consequences of his probation violation, however, Ethan Couch fled the country.

After being brought back into the US, Ethan Couch was sentenced to a term of incarceration of approximately two years in the Tarrant County Lon Evans Correction Center. The jail sentence stemmed from Couch’s violation of parole.

Meanwhile, Tonya Couch has been charged with a number of crimes for her alleged role in her son’s criminal flight, including hindering apprehension and money laundering. Tonya Couch faces the money laundering charges because she allegedly withdrew $30,000 from her personal bank account and then used it to finance her son’s flight to Mexico.

She could be headed to prison for a long time if she is ultimately convicted at trial. A Texas grand jury has already indicted her on the very serious criminal charges.

For more information about this criminal case, check out the NBCNews.com article, “Mom of ‘Affluenza’ Teen Ethan Couch Indicted for Helping Son Escape to Mexico.”


If you or a loved one has been charged with vehicular homicide, manslaughter or any other crime in New Jersey, you need a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer on your side. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza PC can help you fight the charges. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation about your case.

“The attorney working on my personal injury case was knowledgable, courteous, and payed careful attention to every detail. He was sure to address any questions and concerns thoughtfully and respectfully. I have had an excellent experience interacting with the firm and I highly recommend the law firm of Rudnick, Addonizio, Pappa & Casazza to others.”

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