Are rich parents who indulge a child and who are on the brink of a divorce enough to avoid jail for a teenager who killed four people drunk driving? This is not Maryland law but a “poor little rich kid” in another state killed four pedestrians drunk driving. An expert testified for him at trial. The expert that he was not responsible for what he did as he suffered from “affluenza. His parents were rich and indulgent and only interested in fighting with each other which led to their divorce. The young man was sentenced to a rehabilitation facility to the distress of the families of the dead victims.
While the defense of “affluenza” sounds preposterous, it is important to look at the devastating effects of marital strife on children in extreme situations. In the months and years leading up to the divorce, the atmosphere in the home can become toxic for children. The environment in the home and the contributions of each parent to the strife will have an effect if there is a custody dispute.
Annapolis, Maryland courts and family law attorneys try to address the problems of kids in custody cases. The courts require mediation and classes. But, if there is no custody litigation and there is no dispute about where the kids live, Maryland law does not require child services.
Perhaps attorneys may think that the defense put forth by the defense attorney was clever, but it is bad public policy. Presumably, the young man’s parents participated in the trial, the selection of a defense attorney, and the selection of the expert putting forth the opinion. That being the case, it is unfortunate that more severe consequences couldn’t be attached to the divorcing parents.