Ethan Couch -- the Texas teen known for his so-called "affluenza" defense-- will be before a judge next month, who will determine whether to grant the state district attorney's request that the 18-year-old's case be transferred to adult court after he allegedly violated the terms of his juvenile probation and then fled to Mexico with his mother to avoid authorities.
But even if this request is granted, he won't be facing serious jail time, despite the firestorm of media coverage his case has garnered, according to CBS News legal expert Rikki Klieman.
"Everyone seems to think that because this is a "bad boy," that he's going to be brought back to this country, having fled to Mexico and the book is going to be thrown at him, and he's going to prison for a long time. The answer to that is 'wrong,'" Klieman told "CBS This Morning" Wednesday. "He's going to be brought back, he can only face 120 days in jail [if the case is transferred to adult court] - that's it."
According to Klieman, the main benefit to transferring Couch's case to adult court would be much tougher consequences if he violated probation in the future. He currently has eight years of probation remaining on his sentence after a 2013 drunk-driving accident that killed four people.
"So if he then breaks the law or he then violates his probation, then he's going in," Klieman explained. "Government is saying, 'Four deaths -- we're going to look consecutive, we're going to look [for] 40 years if he does another bad thing.'"
If Couch violates his probation under the adult system, he could maximize his sentence for his previous crimes, and face up to 10 years in prison per death.
"Meanwhile, Couch's mother, Tonya Couch, is in more immediate, deeper trouble, facing up to 10 years in prison for committing a third-degree felony.
"What she did was she hindered the government from getting her son by taking him off to Mexico," Klieman said.
Couch and his mother were detained Monday night by Mexican authorities at a Puerto Vallarta apartment complex, after being on the run for about three weeks.
"This is the story of a rich, white boy who got a break -- is too kind of a word--when he, by virtue of "affluenza" got probation," Klieman added. "If he were a young man of color, you would not have seen that happen. That's why people get upset with the system."
A hearing to have Couch transferred to adult court is set for January. If he remains in the juvenile system, the maximum punishment he could receive for probation violations is detention in a juvenile facility until he turns 19 in April.