What Causes Different Sentences for the Same Crime?


It happens often. Two people convicted of similar, if not the exact same crime, receive two entirely different sentences. Sometimes, it calls into question the fairness of such situations. Especially when one case deals with a poor immigrant and the other deals with a wealthy teenager.

In Huntsville, Texas, two similar cases received two vastly different sentences. In one case, a drunken 16-year old ran a red light and crashed into a vehicle carrying a pregnant woman. The accident killed both the woman and her unborn child. In a similar event, a drunken 16-year old crashed into a group of people assisting a stranded motorist and killed four.

Ethan Couch got probation and went free. Jose Arellano went to prison.

It illustrates how prosecutor’s decisions in similar cases can lead to vastly different outcomes. The poor Mexican immigrant has been behind bars for 10 years. The rich white kid only got 10 years of probation.

In Ethan Couch’s case, the prosecutors handling the case said they did not ask to move the case from the juvenile system to the adult system because they thought that the judge would refuse. In contrast, prosecutors moved quickly following Jose Arellano’s accident to move it to adult court.

Couch’s psychologist set off nationwide news by arguing his client suffered from “affluenza.” Lawyers successfully argued that Couch’s parents had coddled him to the point that he was unaware his actions had consequences.

Arellano, on the other hand, faced a jury trial in one of the most conservative regions in the United States and a possible 50 years in prison. Or, Arellano could take a plea deal and spend 20 years in prison. Arellano accepted the plea deal. He never could have argued “affluenza.” His parents had just immigrated from Mexico two years earlier.

Couch, who recently fled to Mexico after a possible probation violation was posted on social media, now faces his case being sent to adult court. If this occurs, he could face three months in adult jail and 10 years adult probation. If he violates that probation, he could face up to 40 years in jail.

Arellano is eligible for parole next year. If he is released, he plans on returning to Mexico to work on a ranch.

If you have been accused of DUI, you will want an attorney familiar with the DUI process. An experienced attorney can help get the best outcome for your situation. All of our attorneys specialize in DUI defense. Contact us today.

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