Roberts Law Group, PLLC
North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorneys

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Does the 'affluenza' defense really work?

Many North Carolina residents may have heard the story of the Texas teenager who was involved in a serious drunk driving accident that resulted in the death of four people in 2013. The teenager caused the accident and deaths because he was intoxicated, and normally that would result in a long jail sentence.

In this case, however, it didn't -- and it was all because of his defense attorney's use of what the has been dubbed the "affluenza" defense. The defense attorney claimed, essentially, that the young man had been so spoiled by his parents financially that he couldn't appreciate the consequences of his choice to drive drunk.

The affluenza defense could work in very rare cases

As this example case shows, the affluenza defense can work. The Texas judge who decided the matter chose to bypass the usual 20-year jail sentence that the teenager normally would have received. Instead, the judge sentenced the drunk driver to a much lesser punishment to be carried out at a California rehabilitation facility for people with addiction problems. In fact, the boy was able to enjoy karate classes, horseback riding and cooking lessons -- at a cost of $450,000 per year to the boy's parents. It appears that the judge was on board with the defense in this case based on the decision.

The thing is, everyone familiar with this case -- especially those who have been accused of drunk driving -- needs to remember that this was an extremely rare circumstance. Also, the choice of the defense attorney in using the so-called affluenza defense was an extraordinarily risky one. It's likely that the client in this was fully aware of the risks involved, and that it was highly unlikely to succeed.

Consider all options before selecting a criminal defense

Those accused of drunk driving crimes in North Carolina may want to consider every criminal defense option available to them. By reviewing the possible options, the facts of the case, the possible punishments and the potential for success of each strategy, individuals accused of crimes can make the most intelligent selection of what defense methodology is appropriate for their situations.

Source:, "Top 10 Crazy Legal Defenses That Actually Worked," Marie Peale, accessed March 22, 2018

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