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5 Lessons From 'Affluenza' Teen's Attempted Escape to Mexico

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Ethan Couch remains in custody in an immigration detention center in Mexico City, after almost a month on the run from law enforcement. The so-called "affluenza" teen and his mom were apprehended in Puerto Vallarta last week, apparently hiding out following a possible probation violation.

Couch was 16 when he struck and killed four pedestrians while driving drunk in Ft. Worth, Texas in 2013. He managed to get just probation and rehab after a defense expert testified Couch suffered from "affluenza," meaning he had been too coddled to be held responsible for his crime.

So why is he still in Mexico, and not back in the United States? And could his attempted escape to Mexico work?

  1. Don't Get Caught Violating Your Probation. The alleged reason for Couch's flight from justice was a video that surfaced depicting him at party where friends were playing beer pong. One of the conditions of his probation is that he avoid drugs and alcohol, and the Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson says Couch could face up to 120 days in an adult jail, followed by 10 years of probation and more prison time for further violations.
  2. Don't Bail On Your Probation Officer. Couch also missed a meeting with his probation officer, sparking a four-week manhunt. Failing to report to your probation or parole officer can be a violation in and of itself, and it's a good way to get law enforcement on your bad side.
  3. Don't Pick the Wrong Country. If you're going to hightail it out of the country, you better know which countries have no extradition treaty with the United States. Extradition is the process by which one state or country handing over an individual to another state or country for the purposes of a criminal trial or punishment. Mexico, along with around 80 other nations, has no extradition treaty with the U.S.
  4. Don't Get Deported. Just because there's no extradition treaty doesn't mean you can stay. Couch's mother Tonya found that out when she got deported to California. She's now on her way back to Texas to face charges of aiding her son's escape. You can get deported for any number of reasons, most of which involve breaking the law in that country.
  5. Hire a Rock Star Lawyer. Couch found one of those in Fernando Benitez, who is battling Couch's possible deportation. Benitez already won a three-day stay of deportation, and says the process could take months. You shouldn't violate your probation, bail on your probation officer, or try to flee to another country. But if you did, you can find your own rock star of a criminal defense attorney in our directory.

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