What Are Mitigating Circumstances? Find Answers to This and Other Questions from a Criminal Defense Attorney

What Are Mitigating Circumstances? Find Answers to This and Other Questions from a Criminal Defense Attorney

What Are Mitigating Circumstances? Find Answers to This and Other Questions from a Criminal Defense Attorney

You can be charged with a crime and fear a severe punishment. Your claimed offense was out of character, and you don’t have any criminal history. Is this important? Can you provide proof like this to get a lighter sentence?

Typically, yes. Facts related to a crime that lessen a defendant’s total guilt or responsibility for committing an infraction are referred to as “mitigating circumstances.” This is referred to as “factors in mitigation” occasionally. Keep reading to learn more and contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for a free legal consultation if you are facing criminal charges.

What are the basics of mitigating circumstances?

An example of mitigating circumstances is that due to abuse or trauma in your past, you may have committed a crime under duress or under the pressure of another person. In a criminal case, you typically provide mitigating circumstances at the sentencing stage. If they are convincing, a court might utilize them to support a less severe punishment.

In both misdemeanor and felony criminal proceedings, defendants can typically offer mitigating evidence.

Why does a criminal defense attorney offer mitigating circumstances in the first place?

A criminal defense lawyer or law office typically introduces mitigating circumstances into the record in attempt to indicate that a defendant’s actions, criminal behavior, or criminal accusations were out of character and give a favorable impression of the defendant. The ultimate goal is to convince a court to reduce the sentence if there are any mitigating factors.

What kinds of situations can you offer?

The majority of jurisdictions’ criminal laws state that defense attorneys may present any mitigating circumstances that bear on a defendant’s responsibility for committing a crime as evidence. A judge frequently refers to state statutes and court regulations that specify the mitigating circumstances a court should take into account while determining relevance.

Situations that can be mitigated relate to both the defendant and the crime.

What are a few illustrations?

In relation to the crime committed, some examples of mitigating considerations include: the defendant had a minor role in the crime, the alleged “victim” provoked the offense, the offense was committed under unusual circumstances that are not likely to occur again, the defendant was under duress when committing the offense, the defendant took precautions to prevent harm to others or property, the defendant committed the offense to support himself or herself or his family, and/or if a firearm was used in the offense.

Three instances of mitigating circumstances relating to the defendant include: the defendant has never been arrested or convicted before, had a mental illness that lessened his or her responsibility for the crime, experienced childhood trauma, was younger than 26 at the time of the crime, voluntarily admitted wrongdoing before being apprehended or at an early stage of the criminal process, was acting in self-defense, and/or has a personal history of victimization or neglect.

How might mitigating circumstances impact a case?

Any mitigating circumstances and any aggravating circumstances that a prosecutor offered as evidence would be taken into consideration by the judge before imposing a punishment. A criminal case’s aggravating factors are circumstances that contribute to the crime’s severity in a particular way. These facts raise a defendant’s level of responsibility and call for a harsher punishment.

Examples of aggravating factors are as follows: the “victim” was an elderly person or someone with a disability, the defendant was carrying a loaded gun at the time of the offense, the offense caused property damage, the defendant was under a restraining order at the time of the offense, and/or the defendant injured someone while committing the crime.

If a court determines that a case’s mitigating circumstances exceed any aggravating circumstances, then punishment can be reduced.

Can you make a case for relief on appeal?

Typically, no. Normally, you present your mitigating circumstances to the judge before the conclusion of your criminal case or after entering a guilty plea. Judges who hear appeals frequently concentrate on whether the trial court committed any substantive mistakes in your case. Normally, fresh evidence cannot be reviewed by an appellate court. This means that you cannot introduce mitigating factors on appeal if you did not do so when you were sentenced.

If you have questions and are ready for a free legal consultation, we invite you to contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for a legal consultation.