Is 'Affluenza' a Legitimate Defense in a DWI Case?

The story of the affluenza teen has taken the nation’s headlines by storm. In 2013 the boy at the center of this story was sentenced to 10 years of probation, but was not given jail time for his involvement in a fatal accident. In that accident, it was reported that the boy was drunk when he crashed and killed four people while injuring several others.

At his trial, the prosecutors asked the judge to put the boy in lockup for at least twenty years. But the boy’s attorneys crafted a unique and creative defense for the young teen, that he suffered from affluenza. The teen’s attorneys defined affluenza as the boy’s state of mind, rendering him unable to make decisions based on wrong and right because he could not appreciate the consequences of his actions.

According to the affluenza defense, a teen’s judgement is impaired because the teen was raised without consequences. Supposedly, this happens to teens who are raised in a wealthy home where everything is provided without work, and there are no consequences for making bad decisions. Under this theory, the justice system should also have mercy on such a teen because the teen just did not know how to choose right from wrong.

Apparently, the judge in this case accepted this argument on some level, and chose to sentence the boy to probation instead of jail time. Of course that ruling grabbed the nation’s attention, and then when it was reported the boy left the country and went to Mexico with his mother, the story’s popularity has only increased. Under the terms of his probation, the boy was not allowed to leave the country. But the question remains of whether this defense is a legitimate one.

Defending DWI Charges

The short answer to this question is, yes. The best defense attorney in DWI and other cases is the one that works for their client. Every case has its own set of facts, and more often than not, those facts dictate the outcome of the case. With those facts, a skilled and capable lawyer will help the court, prosecutor, and jury why their client is not typical and should not be treated in the same way as typical cases. That is what happened in this case.

When it comes to defending DWI charges, there are many different defenses that can apply. Many times a defense will revolve around violations of a person’s constitutional rights. When the police illegally conduct a search, question a suspect in custody without informing them of their rights, or other violation, a court will look at that action and most likely throw out the charges as a way to prevent it from happening in the future. This is not the only way to defend a DWI charge, there are as many defenses available as there are facts in a case.

Choosing the Right Attorney

In every DWI defense, the most important step a defendant will take is choosing an attorney to defend the charges. There are many different attorneys out there, but you will want to choose an attorney whose practice is dedicated to DWI defense and who has the experience your case deserves. At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm our practice focuses on DWI defense, and we have the experience in every aspect of DWI defense – from negotiation to trial. If you have been charged with DWI in the Dallas area, contact us.

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