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What are mitigating circumstances?

On Behalf of | Feb 26, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When determining sentences for criminal convictions, the court will look at a number of factors. No two cases are the same and sentences reflect this. For example, an individual with multiple prior convictions may receive a harsher sentence than someone with no prior record, even though both were convicted of the same offense.

Another aspect that can come into play during sentencing is whether there were any mitigating circumstances. What are mitigating circumstances?

Examples of mitigating factors

Aggravating factors, such as heinousness, severe violence, lack of remorse and prior convictions can increase the severity of a sentence. Mitigating factors, on the other hand, can do the opposite.

Some of the most common forms of mitigating factors include:

  • The age of the offender- Often, minors are treated less harshly as they tend to have no prior convictions. The court may be more willing to give minors a second chance rather than imposing a heavy sentence, as long as there were no aggravating factors present.
  • The role of the offender- The precise role of the offender may also be considered during sentencing. If the offender played more of an accomplice role, then the sentence received may be more lenient than the ring leader.
  • Whether or not the offender was coerced- In some cases, the convicted party may have been forced into committing the offense. For example, in gang-related activities, a person is often forced to commit a crime as an initiation. The failure to complete this task can result in violent repercussions. This may be used as a mitigating factor during the trial and sentencing deliberations.

Sentencing is an important aspect of criminal defense. To ensure that you are treated fairly, it will benefit you to have legal guidance on your side.