Ethan Couch Faces Just 4 Months in Jail

Prosecutors frustrated by quirk in Texas law
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2015 1:00 AM CST
Ethan Couch Faces Just 4 Months in Jail
Ethan Couch is seen in this photo from Monday released by Mexico's Jalisco state prosecutor's office.   (Mexico's Jalisco state prosecutor's office via AP)

After killing four people while driving drunk and becoming an international fugitive over an alleged probation violation, Ethan Couch is about to get the firmest slap on the wrist Texas can deliver. The 18-year-old, who was recaptured in Mexico on Monday, will face a maximum punishment of 120 days behind bars because of what experts describe as a quirk in Texas law, the Dallas Morning News reports. Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson says that because Couch's case is still in the juvenile system, he can either be held in a juvenile facility until he turns 19 in April, or he can have his case transferred to adult court, where he can be sentenced to a maximum of 120 days in adult prison, the AP reports. She describes the situation as the "horns of a dilemma in Texas law."

Couch had been serving 10 years on probation for the 2013 accident. Wilson says she plans to have his case transferred to adult court, where she will ask for "every single possible condition of probation where we will know where he is at all times" for the remaining eight years, the Los Angeles Times reports. She says that if he violates those terms, she will seek a 40-year prison sentence—10 years for every victim. Dallas lawyer David Finn tells the Times that because of the public outcry over Couch blowing his "second chance," prosecutors will do everything they can to have him sent to prison. He expects them to load Couch up with probation conditions and then "sit back and wait for him to fail." (Couch's mother will face charges for helping him flee the country.)

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