Tonya Couch: Experts Reveal What Lies Ahead | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Tonya Couch: Experts Reveal What Lies Ahead

The mother of "affluenza teen" Ethan Couch remains detained in Los Angeles and is due in court for a hearing this week.

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    The mother of a fugitive 18-year-old known for using an "affluenza" defense in a drunken-driving case is expected to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom for an extradition hearing Tuesday. (Published Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2016)

    Ahead of new developments expected this week in the case of "affluenza teen" Ethan Couch, an expert reveals what the future may hold for his mother, who is accused of helping her son flee the country.

    Couch, 18, was sentenced to 10 years of probation for a drunken-driving crash that killed four people in 2013. His attorneys coined the term "affluenza" to describe the teen's privileged upbringing.

    Authorities began searching for Couch last month after he missed a mandatory meeting with a probation officer. He was found to have fled the country to Mexico with his mother, Tonya Couch, who is accused of helping him. The pair was found in Puerto Vallarta and arrested Monday.

    Although Ethan Couch remains in Mexico, his mother was deported to the United States late Wednesday. She remains detained in Los Angeles pending a hearing set for early this week.

    Ethan Couch's New Attorney to Speak Out

    [DFW] Ethan Couch's New Attorney to Speak Out
    The newly appointed Mexican lawyer for the fugitive American "affluenza" teen Ethan Couch told NBC News he took the case to make sure Couch gets due process through the legal system and isn't simply kicked out. (Published Monday, Jan. 4, 2016)

    Law enforcement sources in Texas told NBC News the hearing is set for Tuesday. It could happen any time after 10:30 a.m. Central Time at the Los Angeles Superior Court.

    Dallas attorney Pete Schulte told NBC DFW the extradition process for Tonya Couch from Los Angeles to a courtroom in Tarrant County, Texas, may not take long.

    "If she's not going to fight it, then the minute she walks in and says, 'Your honor, we're not going to fight extradition,' the judge will say, 'OK,' sign the order and off she goes," said Schulte.

    Barring unforseen circumstances, Tonya Couch will likely return to Tarrant County by mid-week to face a felony charge of hindering apprehension, law enforcement sources told NBC News. She's being held on $1 million bond.

    Tonya Couch Due for Hearing in Los Angeles

    [DFW] Tonya Couch Due for Hearing in Los Angeles
    Tonya Couch is expected to attend a hearing Tuesday at the Los Angeles Superior Court. (Published Monday, Jan. 4, 2016)

    Tarrant County deputies planned to return from California with Tonya Couch by the end of the week. Her attorney said "she looks forward to being returned to Texas as quickly as possible... and is eager to have her day in court."

    "She'll have the condition that if she's able to make the $1 million bond that she'll have to wear an electronic monitor, because she is a flight risk," Schulte said.

    Ethan Couch remained Sunday inside a Mexican immigration detention center in Mexico City. Fernando Benitez, a high-profile Mexican attorney known for winning big cases confirmed Friday he would represent Ethan.

    "The is the chance down there that the Mexican lawyer is successful, he could get released, and then be left in Mexico," said Schulte. "And then Mr. Couch will be on his way to go wherever he wants, and we kind of start the process over."

    Schulte said he believes Ethan Couch is "getting bad advice."

    "His Mexican lawyers telling him we should delay, delay, delay. All that's doing is hurting him when he does inevitably get back to Tarrant County in front of a judge here," he said.

    On Monday, the Tarrant County District Attorney's office said that Tonya Couch will likely be arraigned in Criminal District Court Two within 24 to 48 hours of her return to the county.

    After Ethan Couch was detained in Mexico last week, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson announced a Jan. 19 court date in juvenile court to hear a motion that will transfer Ethan's probation from juvenile to adult court.

    What's Next for Tonya Couch

    [DFW] What's Next for Tonya Couch
    Ahead of new developments expected this week in the case of "affluenza teen" Ethan Couch, an expert reveals what the future may hold for his mother, who is accused of helping her son flee the country. (Published Monday, Jan. 4, 2016)

    However, with Ethan still in Mexico it's unclear if that hearing can go on without him. A DA spokesperson said that was still being discussed and determined. If the hearing cannot happen with Couch absent, the DA's office says they'll wait until the day he returns even if it's years from now.

    NBC 5's Kevin Cokely and Chris Van Horne contributed to this report.


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