In the case known as the Affluenza Case, a very controversial decision was made that ended in teen Ethan Couch serving no jail time after killing four pedestrians while drunk driving. I first heard about this case through the exposure it received on social media, I was shocked with the outcome. It was released that his blood-alcohol level was three times over the legal limit and Ethan Couch only given just 10 years of probation. The issue I have with this case was the teen was let off because it deemed that because of his wealth he never had rules or responsibilities set by his parents. It is clear this teen was given privileges that someone from a lower economic status wouldn’t of been given. At the time Ethan Couch committed this crime he was 16 years old, which is more than old enough to know you shouldn’t be drinking and driving.
Couch’s economic status affected this case tremendously. There are so many other cases like Ethan Couch, where other children cause crashes under the influence and get charged and face jail time. Trevor Bergin, 19 years old was exactly like Ethan. Trevor caused an accident due to the fact that he was under the influence of alcohol. But the outcome of his trial was completely different than Ethan’s. Trevor was charged with intoxicated manslaughter and a felony level DWI. Why did Trevor receive jail time and not probation? His crash only lead to the death of one person, while Couch’s actions lead to the death of 4 people. These two cases are similarly but due to the fact that Ethan came from money and Trevor didn’t there outcomes are completely different . Money can buy anything is a common saying these days. Money bought Ethan his freedom and relieved him from facing the true consequences he deserved. During Ethan’s trial, they blamed him being spoiled and given everything he wanted for the reason he was drinking while driving. But is that really a good enough reason to give him a slap on the wrist punishment? In my opinion it’s not.
When it comes down to it, our laws really aren’t much different than those of Hammurabi. Those in a higher social class were given a different set of laws than those below them. For example Law 203 states “If a free-born man strike the body of another free-born man or equal rank, he shall pay one gold mina” but Law 201 states “If he knock out the teeth of a freed man, he shall pay one-third of a gold mina.” A man of higher social class was given a lesser punishment for a crime committed towards an individual in a lower social class. Like today wealthy men in the ancient Mesopotamia times were given special privileges over those of the less fortunate.
To improve this system of unfairness is really quite simple… give fair trials. Those who are wealthier will obviously still be able to obtain better lawyers because they will have the money to afford them. But an individual should not be exempt from a law because of how much their parents have.