New Law Would Block 'Affluenza' Criminal Defense Strategy | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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New Law Would Block 'Affluenza' Criminal Defense Strategy

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Wed, Jan 15, 2014 at 1:55 PM
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Being a rich kid whose coddled upbringing prevented you from realizing the consequences of breaking the law may no longer be an excuse when you're prosecuted in court.

Well, to be truthful here, it never really was an excuse in the California court system - that we know of. But, just in case, L.A.-area state Assemblyman Mike Gatto is proposing to do away with the possibility of a rich-kid defense in these here parts.

The proposed legislation is in reaction to the story of Ethan Couch:

Crouch is the Texas teenager who was sentenced to probation after he killed four people, including a mother and daughter, in a drunk-driving crash. His defense, in the words of this report, was that he was "a victim of his own wealthy upbringing."

It has been called the "affluenza" defense. No way, says Gatto. Not in California.

According to his office, Gatto's proposed law, AB 1508, "would forbid a judge or jury from reducing the sentence of a defendant who claims that being raised in a wealthy or excessively lenient household somehow explains or absolves that defendant's guilt."

Gatto says:
Perhaps the notion of personal responsibility seems antiquated to some. But I think the majority of us believe that people should own up to their actions, and that criminals should not be able to use their wealth or privilege to lessen the severity of their sentences. Spoiled children shouldn't be able to spoil the chances of victims to obtain justice when a criminal act has occurred.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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