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Author Topic: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?  (Read 2166 times)

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Offline Formless

Re: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2014, 04:16:50 PM »
Not that I understand the American law system.

But has anyone , be it the founders of this system , judges , lawyers ... etc. Has any of those put into consideration how the children of the victims will take it? Their parents died because of a drunken teenager , and he was let off the hook without a punishment?

This may be an exaggeration , but it is only based on what I've observed from this case. But what if one of these children grew up to the age of 17 , committed a felony of drinking and driving ( Since in his own logic , he will be off the hook ) , or murdered someone. And his lawyer can base his action on the trauma he received when he was delivered the news of his parents' death?

Offline IStateYourName

Re: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?
« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2014, 06:21:55 PM »
What the affluenza punk really needed was an ass-whupping from Dad five or six years ago, when he first started down the road to delinquency.  As for what to do with him now, while I'm tempted to say prison, it wouldn't bring back the dead, nor help him become a better person.  I do think he needs to be removed from his bubble of wealth and privilege and made to live in the real world, where people are accountable for their actions.  Maybe he and others like him need to be placed into one of those wilderness survival camps, where being a duffer and jag-off isn't an option if you want to eat.

Offline meikle

Re: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?
« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2014, 11:01:08 PM »
I'm quite sure we've never hidden anything at all. In fact, we publicize it.

After all, the New York Social Register was first published in the 1880's.  ::)
I dunno, I think there was an era where we at least pretended that the rich were also beholden to the rule of law.  Now we just kind of shrug it off.  "My parents are rich so I can't go to jail!"  "Okay."

Offline Sho

Re: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2014, 03:04:40 PM »
To start off, I do believe that he should go to prison. He killed people, end of story, as far as I see it.

That being said…legally speaking, our goal is to try and ensure that people learn a lesson. There is a punitive element (and depending on the case, it can be the primary element in sentencing), but adolescents generally are put into programs or jails that focus on rehabilitation. The idea is that their brain wasn't fully formed and thus, at least on some basic level, they're not fully capable of making mature decisions and are not as responsible for their actions as an adult would be. That's why sentencing changes so dramatically after 18. Before 18 (and again, this is a generalization), there is a focus on taking the kid and trying to make him or her into a productive member of society partially for the kid's sake and partially to stop the taxpayer from supporting someone in jail for sixty years for a crime that they didn't fully understand.

Do I think it's fair that because this kid is rich, he got the sentence he did? Not at all. Would I be FURIOUS if I was the parent of the kids killed? Absolutely. There is an idea, though not one I always agree with, that if you plan on pursuing revenge, you should dig two graves. Your children won't come back even if this child forfeits his life to the state. Instead, the hope is that he'll learn the impact of what he did, and come to be a better and more productive member of society because of his rehabilitation. The problem with this is that these programs are only really open to those who can afford it, with a few notable exceptions. I do think that this kid needs to learn a harsher lesson and I think that his parents should be ashamed for not taking better notice of his actions earlier, but at the end of the day, I have to have some faith in our legal system that the opinions of people who literally are experts in this field - adolescent and pediatric psychiatry - have stated on numerous occasions that youthful offenders can be prevented from reoffending (and can even be integrated back into society) upon the successful completion of a treatment regiment.

I also think that he should never be able to drink again. Period. But that's just me.

Edit: Interesting article I found…it pretty much explains that while the kid may have essentially gotten off easy (Texas has been leaning towards rehabilitation for youthful offenders recently), the parents are probably facing a very difficult civil suit. Which I would argue is a good thing. Link below, for any who are interested.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2014, 03:11:01 PM by Sho »

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2014, 03:18:27 PM »
That was his defense, but it's actually somewhat clever of the judge.

1) It pins the blame on the parents, which gives additional credence to the civil lawsuits that are to follow. It lets them go after the family's assets, no the kid's or the LLC that held the truck he was driving.
2) It prevents him from going to juvenile detention, which would likely just let him go in two years with no oversight. This gives them ten years of oversight in which he has to fuck up.

From what I understand there is no minimum time placed on his rehab and with the length of his probation he has to toe the line with no mistakes or he ends up in prison.  Also, his parents are on the line for the cost of his rehab not the state and as you said holding them responsible for his sentence makes it easier for the victims' families to sue thereby making "affluenza" the basis of the case.

I'm the survivor of a similar situation that resulted in the loss of two lives.  The driver of the car that hit us was sixteen, drunk, and speeding in a luxury two-seater, a gift from his parents, that was more car than he could handle.  He ended up with a bump on his forehead.  Because he was a juvenile he got two years in a facility for youthful offenders and then released with five years probation.  None of us felt this was sufficient punishment for his actions.

I took exception to the defense tactics from the beginning but now that the sentence has been handed down I wish something like this had happened in my case.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2014, 03:20:16 PM by Beguile's Mistress »

Offline consortium11

Re: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?
« Reply #30 on: February 09, 2014, 09:43:34 AM »
While I understand why the story has got a lot of publicity, I still find it somewhat disappointing that it's caused the outcry it has.

Back in the days when I was an evil high-powered corporate solicitor I eased my conscious by doing pro-bono work. Normally that revolved around doing my evil high-powered corporate work for charities and the like and giving general legal advice to those who couldn't afford it but occasionally I did do criminal defence work. And 9/10 I'd use pretty much the exact same tactic when it came to sentencing, albeit on a different basis; the defendant had grown up in poverty/a dysfunctional home/an abusive environment/without a father figure etc and as a result had had his/her sense of responsibility/mental state etc warped. And then follow up by arguing that prison would be an effective or economic option and that it would be far better to offer a non-custodial option. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

And it is functionally exactly the same as what happened in this case.

Once the law allows a person's background to be included when judging the case (or at least the sentencing) we cannot then turn around and argue that we should only allow it for certain backgrounds. From what I understand of this case the defence was able to put forward credible experts who put the argument about "affluenza" forward and supported it with evidence. Again, that is functionally no different to experts putting the opposite socio-economic story forward... that it was "Povertyilis".

Offline Chris Brady

Re: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?
« Reply #31 on: February 09, 2014, 12:23:33 PM »

I hadn't really been following this story but I saw it my homepage earlier this morning and just couldn't ignore it. Apparently this teenager was driving while intoxicated and killed several people and crippling others. He wasn't convicted because apparently his having wealthy parents caused him to grow up spoiled and without a sense of personal responsibility. Now, I'm sure I don't have all the facts and I'm holding back my initial opinions but I'd like to hear what you all have to say about the whole mess.
And if you think that's going to change any time soon, you really don't watch the news do you?  Rich people get out of their crimes all the time, because they have money and thus influence.

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Re: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?
« Reply #32 on: February 09, 2014, 01:58:27 PM »
Quote from: Beguile's Mistress
From what I understand there is no minimum time placed on his rehab and with the length of his probation he has to toe the line with no mistakes or he ends up in prison. 
       This is perhaps the part that nags me most when I think about it. 

        I appreciate what Veks said, if the judge was really doing the best she could find to open up opportunities for civil suits and at least the possibility that he might be kept in the system as needed somehow to get the point across (at least to him personally?)...  But it's easy to be skeptical regarding how all of that might play out. 

        I suppose the family might shell out some more money to settle another suit rather than have the press drag on (assuming they could well enough afford to) and in that scenario at least the families that lost people would get some direct compensation.

         Just don't think it's being too "emotional" to point out that there's no really elegant solution here.  A bunch of people died and it's not clear whether in the end, even the sentence given will actually be carried out long enough to make either the driver or his parents pause very much.  The judge may have done the best she could with the tools she was given, I don't know.  I don't mean to say that just sending the rich youth to prison would necessarily help him much -- though it might be interesting to investigate what sort of impact that would have on how other families with similar resources think and educate their children...  But there's just something crappy about it when we reach a point where we say, yeah money talks and shit walks too.

Offline ladia2287

Re: Not Guilty by Reason of 'Affluena'?
« Reply #33 on: June 27, 2014, 12:52:17 AM »
As much as I disagree with the principle of the defence, I would like to point out that both the legal counsel and the judge are doing their job.

One of the pinnacles of the Adversarial Court system, which is the system used by most English-speaking countries around the world is the following set of principles:

1) It is the responsibility of the prosecuting party to articulate the allegations made, and to prove them.

2) The parties accused have the right to a vigorous defence, and

3) The verdict and sentence shall only be influenced by the evidence presented in court between the commencement and conclusion of the trial, and by the legislation of the time.

If a solicitor or attorney (depending on your local legal system) has been engaged to defend someone in a trial, they are legally obliged to exploit every possible legal loophole they can in order to try to have the case found in their client's favour. If they do not, they are guilty themselves of malpractice and in some countries can be prosecuted for it.

If there is even the remotest shred of evidence that a judge used anything other than the evidence strictly presented during trial in handing down his or her verdict, then the decision is automatically overturned on appeal because the defendant did not receive a fair trial.

So, as infuriating as it is to think that someone got off of a very serious allegation on such a flimsy basis, this was simply a case of two sets of legal counsel and a presiding judge doing their duty.