Every criminal defendant hopes to resolve their case without a conviction, but that’s not always possible.
Whether you lose at trial or eventually accept a plea deal, mitigation will become a big part of your defense.
Judges consider numerous factors before passing sentence
Most criminal charges carry a range of sentencing options, so a conviction can mean very different things for two different people — even if they’re facing the same charges. One defendant may walk away with probation and fines, while another may serve time in prison.
What’s the difference? It often comes down to the mitigating factors the defense attorney is able to present the judge. Mitigating factors are anything that may sway the court toward leniency in your sentence. They generally come in two flavors: Positive and negative.
Negative mitigation includes anything that lends weight to the idea that you are, in some way, a victim of circumstances and misfortune. For example, the fact that you had a previously-undiagnosed mental illness and were in its grip during the time you broke the law would be negative mitigation.
Positive mitigation includes anything that points to either your value to the world, your general good character or acts of redemption. For example, the fact that you never broke the law before, that you are your family’s main breadwinner and that you have now sought treatment for a previously-undiagnosed mental illness that led to your crime would all be positive mitigation.
Mitigation is so central to the criminal defense process that there are even specialists in the area who work with particularly sensitive or serious cases.
When you’re in trouble with the law, get help
<ahref=”/sentencing-guidelines/”>Criminal cases can be complicated, and the facts of each situation are always unique. If you’re in trouble, make sure you have a defender who understands every stage of the process by your side.