The Adolescent Forensic campus at the North Texas State Hospital, where Ethan Couch lived for several months following his intoxication manslaughter conviction, resembles a secure dormitory.
Superintendent Jeff Smith said that the place is a “hospital” and not a “corrections facility.” Many days, teen patients undergo 15 to 16 hours of treatment and therapy. Mr. Smith added that the environment is meant to be intense while also providing an opportunity for personal reflection and reformation.
Mr. Couch’s attorneys claimed that he was a victim of “affluenza” at the time of his offense, and he did not understand the consequences of his actions because he had never been effectively disciplined by his well-to-do parents. The judge in the case, Jean Boyd, said she was concerned that Mr. Couch may not get the proper treatment in jail, but that the affluenza angle did not necessarily influence her decision.
Defenses to Juvenile Crime
If there is evidence that a person suffered from a mental condition that impeded his or her ability to understand the circumstances, such evidence can be considered in the punishment phase. There is a growing body of evidence that the brain is not fully developed until age 25. And, the younger the offender, the higher the level of immaturity.
Other defenses are available during the underlying trial, and not just at the punishment phase. Lack of admissible evidence is probably the most effective defense. In a trial, a juvenile defense lawyer in Denton does not need to show that the defendant is innocent, but rather that there is not enough evidence to support a conviction. If the prosecutor cannot prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge or jury’s verdict must be not guilty.
Mistake of fact is another defense. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, but if a defendant can convince the decision-maker that he did not know the gun was loaded or she did not know that the car belonged to someone else, there may be an effective defense.
An experienced attorney can quickly and professionally evaluate the case, and use any defenses you may have at trial, and in plea negotiations with the prosecutor.