New legislation in California may outlaw criminal defence based on economic privilege. The bill, proposed by California Assemblyman Mike Gatto, is inspired by a drunk driving case in Texas.
The 16-year-old perpetrator, who admitted his guilt in the accidental deaths of four victims and serious injury of a fifth, heavily incorporated his upbringing into his defense, claiming his rich, neglectful parents raised him with no consequences. The driver, Ethan Couch, was sentenced to time in a private substance abuse facility (paid for by his parents) and 10 years probation -- he will serve no time in jail.
Though it remains unclear whether the “affluenza” defense is what decided the case, the backlash caused by the decision has been fierce. Gatto’s bill seeks to prevent use of this defense in California.
Can overly indulgent parents negatively affect their children’s outlook on crime and punishment? Is the “affluenza” defense valid? Is it worth banning?
Mike Gatto, Assemblyman, Forty-Third District representing the cities of Burbank, Glendale, and parts of Los Angeles, including Los Feliz, North Hollywood and others.
Darren Kavinoky, founder of 800-no-cuffs, the Kavinoky law firm, with offices in Los Angeles and throughout California