California Considers Banning The 'Affluenza' Defense

Bad news for rich scofflaws: a state assemblyman wants to make sure nobody in this state can get away with a crime just because they're rich.

This week California Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced AB 1508, which seeks to ban defendants from using the so-called "affluenza" defense as well as using it as a factor in sentencing, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The "affluenza" defense stems from the case of a 16-year-old in Texas who killed four people while driving drunk. Prosecutors tried to get 20 years in prison for Ethan Crouch, but the judge sided with the defense, claiming that Couch's affluent background rendered him unable to differentiate between right and wrong. The notorious defense move succeeded in keeping the teen out of jail: instead he got ten years of probation. The case set off a national uproar, with people all over the country claiming that Couch shouldn't have been given such a lenient sentence for essentially being a spoiled rich kid.

Gatto claims he wants to make sure it never, ever happens again, at least here in California.

"It doesn't take a crystal ball to see that the relatively lenient sentence that this gentleman in Texas received will lead attorneys to see this is something to use in their overall tool box," Gatto told the Times, calling the bill a "line in the sand."

If the bill becomes law, rich people with the best attorneys that money can buy will just have to find a different legal tactic (perhaps the "twinkie defense"?) to get their clients off.