‘Affluenza’ mom Tonya Couch posts bond, is released

Posted at 12:43 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-12 12:44:01-05

Tonya Couch, the mother of “affluenza” teen Ethan Couch, was released from jail Tuesday as expected, CNN affiliate KTVT reported.

Tonya Couch

Her release comes a day after a judge lowered her bond from $1 million to $75,000.

Wearing an electronic ankle monitor is part of her bond agreement.

Authorities have accused Tonya Couch of helping her son leave the country to avoid a probation hearing that might have led to jail time for him.

Texas prosecutors had charged her with hindering the apprehension of a felon and bond was initially set at $1 million. That happened in December, after she was returned to the United States but while she was still in Los Angeles, in the custody of the L.A. Police Department.

Couch arrived in Texas on Thursday after a Los Angeles judge approved her extradition more than a week after Mexican authorities detained mother and son in a Pacific resort town.

She was arraigned Friday in Fort Worth but did not enter a formal plea. She will plead not guilty, said Stephanie Patten, her attorney.

During Monday’s bond hearing, Tarrant County Judge Wayne Salvant lowered her bond and issued several other conditions.

While Couch is out on bond, she must:

Wear an electronic ankle monitor. Report to authorities on a weekly basis. Live in Tarrant County with her 29-year-old son and his family. Abstain from using controlled substances or alcohol (she’ll be drug tested). Be placed under 24-hour home confinement (lawyers and doctors are allowed to visit her). Not possess or transport any firearms or weapons. Pay a monthly $60 supervision fee. Avoid “bad actors.”

Salvant also issued a gag order for lawyers involved in the case, barring them from communicating with the media.

Couch to undergo a mental exam

On Friday, Tarrant County Magistrate Judge Matt King ordered Tonya Couch to undergo a mental exam after the court found “reasonable cause” to believe that she suffers from “a mental illness or is a person with a mental retardation,” according to court documents.

The judge’s order was issued Friday and must be completed within 30 days.

The mental examination will determine whether there is clinical evidence to support the argument that Tonya Couch may be incompetent to stand trial.

Before she and her son fled to Mexico, she withdrew $30,000 from her account and told her husband that he would not see them again, an arrest affidavit stated.

Probation woes

Before he went to Mexico, Ethan Couch was on probation for killing four people in a drunken-driving accident in 2013, when he was 16.

At the time, outrage followed when a judge sentenced him to probation instead of jail time. During the trial, his lawyers cited the now notorious “affluenza” defense, suggesting he was too rich and spoiled to understand the consequences of his actions.

Ethan Couch is still in Mexico, and his return to the United States largely depends on whether he decides to contest his deportation. Last week, a Mexican judge granted the teen a temporary stay, halting deportation proceedings.

On Monday, Mothers Against Drunk Driving started a petition supporting Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson’s decision to ask for Ethan Couch to be moved from the juvenile justice system to the adult criminal system.