By Brian Hews
SACRAMENTO, CA – It is being called the new “California Affluenza Law,” and radio talk show hosts up and down the Golden State are already weighing in on this new unique piece of legislation coming out of the State Capitol.
Los Angeles area Assemblyman Mike Gatto introduced legislation this week in what he hopes will eliminate “Affluenza” as a defense at trial or as a mitigating circumstance in post-trial sentencing here in the star driven state.
Gatto, in a statement to Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper on Wednesday said that his new proposed “Affluenza Law” deals directly with California criminal-defense “realm” that a notion that an affluent or overly permissive upbringing prevents a defendant from fully understanding the consequences of criminal actions.
Gatto’s AB 1508 would forbid a judge or jury from reducing the sentence of a defendant who claims that being raised in a wealthy or excessively lenient household somehow explains or absolves that defendant’s guilt.
The “Affluenza” defense was recently used successfully in a case where a drunken teenager named Ethan Couch killed four good-Samaritans, including a mother and daughter, by running them down on the side of a road as they stopped to help a stranded motorist.
Couch’s defense team argued that, because of his family’s wealth and lenient child-rearing style, the defendant never learned that his actions had consequences. Couch was sentenced to ten years’ probation and will serve no jail time, despite killing four people and leaving another paralyzed.
“Perhaps the notion of personal responsibility seems antiquated to some,” said Assemblyman Gatto.
“But I think the majority of us believe that people should own up to their actions, and that criminals should not be able to use their wealth or privilege to lessen the severity of their sentences. Spoiled children shouldn’t be able to spoil the chances of victims to obtain justice when a criminal act has occurred.”
HMG-CN will follow this bill in Sacramento. What do you think about this idea from Assemblyman Gatto? Please send your comments to [email protected].
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