|Quoting WIederling (Reply 44):|
How is the civil liabilities side handled here?
Does he have to support his victims?
He has no civil liabilities in a case like this. As a minor, his parents are responsible for his actions.
That benefits the victims and families - because the kid had no real assets. However, Mom has some independent money, Dad owns a very profitable business (with a piece apparently belonging to Mom from the divorce settlement).
The parents (and their insurance companies) have made out of court consent settlements with the families of the four people killed. Estimates vary, but the settlements are likely in the mid-seven figure range for each victim. There were also settlements for the families of two young children riding with one of the victims who were in his truck that was hit by Couch. Their injuries were very minor, but there was a financial settlement. There might have been settlements with some of the other minor injury people. There were several people in the truck with Couch.
The biggest settlement is for the family of the young man riding in the bed of Couch's pickup. He suffered a brain injury and is unable to move and barely conscious. The settlement with his family is open-ended financially, based upon the medical needs for that boy for the rest of his life.
Estimates from knowledgable people given in some of the Dallas/ Fort Worth media are that his mother has paid over $1 million, and his father close to $5 million of their personal funds, along with about $20 million from their insurance companies for this case. One estimate is that they paid almost $1 million for his lawyers/ defense.
|Quoting seb146 (Reply 52):|
Aren't there circumstances where older teens can be tried as adults? Because he was drunk and on drugs and killed four, this *should* have been cause enough to try him as an adult. This is where the system failed. Or the system recognized his is a rich White male.
Repeat offenders in several catagories can have their trials moved to adult court. For a first time offender, there has to be an easily provable pre-meditated act. Couch being drunk doesn't meet the pre-meditated act definition of murder in any of the US states, nor most other nations.
|Quoting seb146 (Reply 70):|
That is insane. He was drunk as a minor and killed four. He should be in adult jail now.
In most of the 50 US states, that would not be an option. It's not only Texas.
The key factor is that this was his 'first' criminal offense.
The crime was involuntary manslaughter. That the deaths were the result of a mistake by Couch while driving which caused him to lose control of his truck. Even though he was drunk, there was no criminal intent to kill anyone or harm anyone. It was not a pre-meditated act which caused the deaths and injuries.
Now his being rich might have something to do with his charges and sentence.
Being rich enough to afford good lawyers ensures that the law will be strictly followed.
Being poor with an overworked court appointed inexperienced lawyer could result in the defendant being scared into accepting an adult trial with a pre-approved adult jail sentence. The poor smuck would not know that the prosecutor couldn't get away with such things as life in prison or the death penalty. That the prosecution couldn't charge him with first or second degree murder. Often when you hear about a poor, or non-white, defendant getting a very harsh sentence for a first time offense, prosecution threats have scared the defendant into agreeing to a guilty plea and sentence that would never be given at trial, nor that any good attorney could not get thrown out.
One of the 'problems' with the justice system in the US is that when a defendant pleads guilty, they have no right to appeal after they learn that everything that convinced them to accept the prison time and avoid a trial - all the threats about what the jury would decide, the even harsher sentence a judge would give, were BS
Now a lot of the news media like to talk about the prosecution asking for a 20 year sentence, and the judge giving probation.
That was the prosecutor playing a PR
game with the media and the victims families. The district attorney office knows that a juvenile first offender will never be sentenced to adult jail. They never tried to move the case to adult court because it was a waste of resources. A 16 year old first offender is presumed to be reformable in Texas, and most other states.
If the judge had given the kid a 20 year sentence, he would serve less than two years in juvenile confinement. Then when he turns 19, his criminal record is completely erased. Unless he commits a felony while in prison. (That is what the kid mentioned as getting a 30 year sentence from the same judge is still in jail. Not because of the original sentence, but because he commited a violent felony while in juvenile confinement, and as a repeat offender charged with a pre-meditated crime, was eligible to be tried in adult court for that crime.)
The 10 year probation sentence carries past Couch's the age 19 free pass.
Mom will likely get an adult felony conviction out of this case. Couch may be placed in jail until his hearings, which the prosecution will delay as long as possible. He will likely be released with an ankle monitor, daily phone checkins and weekly blood tests for alcohol/ drug use. Violation of any of those restrictions will put him in jail as a repeat probation violator.
Just to be clear - I have no sympathy for the little twerp.
He is by all accounts a rich spoiled brat whose parents have done everything they can to ensure he never has to pay consequences for his behavior. He thinks he is above the law, and all the stupid 'poor' people. They get what they deserve, and he will never have to deal with any problems he causes.
I have great sympathy for the families of those killed and the young man who is a now a high-grade vegetable and his family.
But we do not have a justice system in the US, and many other nations, based upon revenge.
We have a justice system based on the idea that people who make mistakes and cause harm to others can be taught the error of their ways, and learn to be good productive members of society.
Couch's odds of doing that are smaller than a FRCH in my opinion, and as demonstrated by his recent actions. The probation sentence is perfect for such twerps, because it gives him enough rope to get him labeled a repeat offender and spend much of the rest of his life in jail.