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Affluenza Teen Caught Violating Probation, per Tweets

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on December 07, 2015 2:59 PM

A teenage boy sentenced to probation for drunk driving and killing four people in 2013 is under investigation for playing beer pong. Ethan Couch was caught drinking on camera at a party, allegedly, and the video was posted on Twitter, tagging the Tarrant County District Attorney, Gawker reports.

Couch is famous for his "affluenza" defense. In 2013, his doctor testified that he was the victim of privilege and should not be punished for being too rich to care about consequences. When the teen got a probation plea, despite causing four deaths, Couch became the symbol an unjust system that punishes rich and poor differently. That's likely why @BlondSpectre tweeted the video of him violating probation.

Evidence Online and In Real Life (IRL)

The video posted online, while damning in the court of public opinion, is not evidence. But the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office has responded to the allegation, saying it has initiated an investigation.

The terms of Couch's ten-year probation -- a truly generous punishment for a four-death DUI manslaughter -- prohibit him from drinking alcohol. In the video, he is violating the terms. And supposedly there is more footage. The social media source promised, "ya boy ethan couch violating probation. i got more if u want."

Proving a Probation Violation

In real life, probation violations are proven in a court of law. As unseemly as Ethan Couch's defense may seem to many, and as delicious as the prospect of a fitting punishment, due process demands a hearing.

Because probation violations can lead to jail and prison, defendants have the right to defend against accusations. The standard of proof required to show probation was violated is generally lower than that applied in a criminal trial. But anonymous tips with no context are not enough.

As he did twice before, Couch will no doubt mount a creative defense. Last year, he evaded jail time again despite prosecutors' efforts to put him behind bars with additional charges. Brace yourselves, because the court might actually be convinced the kid needs a break ... again.

If you or someone you know is accused of a probation violation, a DUI, or any other criminal offense, don't assume you'll be as lucky as Ethan Couch has been. But do take one page from his book. Get an attorney and work on a defense.

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