Probation Violation in Juvenile Court

Ethan Couch has allegedly violated on his juvenile probation. Ethan is the one who used the so-called affluenza defense and a judge sentenced him to 10 years probation probation without a day in jail. He has now allegedly violated probation for drinking alcohol and then not checking in with probation officers and fleeing to Mexico. At one point he filed papers to challenge the deportation but later dropped that idea and is now in back in the US. The judge has ruled that he will stay in jail pending his next hearing in February 2016.

For his probation violation the district attorney says because he is currently in juvenile court the maximum sentence he can get on this violation is 4 months in jail. So what the prosecutor is trying to do is transfer the case to adult court, where he will be given one more opportunity to perform on probation. If while in adult court he violates on probation then he can be sentenced and sent to prison. The sentencing portion of this seems a little backwards, this kid killed 4 people and his only punishment for that was probation. He got his chance to do well in the community and then he violated. For this violation it would only make sense for him to be sent to prison.

In San Diego the way this type of situation would have likely worked would have been something called stayed custody at the time of his original sentencing. That is jail or prison time that is not imposed but the stay on it is lifted and it is imposed at the time of a violation.

Recently one of Mr. Couch’s lawyers has claimed that he may have been forced to go to Mexico against his will, which seems like a very improbable argument.

As a criminal attorney in San Diego, I can say that this argument would be very hard to make. I think why they put that out there was to do the best they can to change the public’s perception about Ethan. Once the public heard this story, they already passed judgment on the situation and the lawyers don’t want the judge to unduly influenced by the public’s perception. If they do attempt to argue that I think what they are going to say is that his mother coerced him and that his mother made him go to Mexico with her and he had no choice. That is the only real chance for Mr. Couch’s way out.