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Ethan Couch recklessly abused court’s trust

As a criminal defense attorney, I’m naturally inclined to give citizens accused the benefit of the doubt, but I get angry when defendants like Ethan Couch abuse the court’s trust. When the court granted Couch probation for a DUI manslaughter charge (which usually carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison), I was surprised. When the “affluenza teen” violated his parole, I was not.

Decades of “tough on crime” measures and minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines have limited the discretion judges have, and it’s led to overpopulation of prisons as too many inmates serve longer sentences than warranted by the circumstances of their crimes. Sometimes there are good reasons to soften a sentence, but “affluenza” is not one of them.

Now that Ethan Couch violated the terms of his very lenient probation, I’d hate to see other citizens accused, whose cases are less egregious, lose the benefit of the court’s discretion.

Read my full opinion on CNN.com.

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