Criminal Defense

What are Mitigating Factors for Criminal Sentencing?

Mitigating factors in criminal proceedings are facts that can reduce the culpability, gravity, or severity of a criminal act. Your attorney may present evidence of mitigating factors to support a more lenient sentence after the trial or when negotiating a plea deal. Several mitigating circumstances relate to the character of the defendant, while some factors relate to how the defendant committed the crime. In this blog post, we discuss some of the most common mitigating factors in California.

Victim Culpability

You could use victim culpability as a mitigating factor if the victim pushed you to commit the crime. If you have been convicted of battery, for instance, you could argue that the victim of the battery provoked the action either through a physical attack or threat of violence.

Past Criminal Records

The judge may consider whether you have past criminal records when determining a sentence. If you have prior criminal convictions, for example, the judge might consider this as evidence of the likelihood you will commit future criminal acts. However, if you do not have any prior offenses, then the lack of a criminal record can be used as a mitigating factor, leading to a lighter sentence.

Minor Role In The Crime

If the defendant made an insignificant contribution to the crime, they could use it as a mitigating factor during sentencing. In a drug trafficking case, for example, a defendant may have been paid to drive a drug trafficker to a deal. In this case, the defendant could argue that he or she played an insignificant role in the drug deal and that they should receive a lesser sentence.

Genuine Remorse

If you voluntarily take responsibility and acknowledge committing the crime before arrest or initial stages of the proceedings, you can have this factor in your favor. If the sentencing is influenced by remorse as a mitigating factor, the Court must evaluate the situation from both a psychological and legal perspective.

Although remorse does not guarantee lighter sentencing, lack of remorse may lead to more punitive sentencing. In simpler terms, the judge may have observed that you keep blaming others for your actions and consider that an aggravating factor.

No Harm

If you committed a crime without harming the victim, the judge might consider the lack of harm as a mitigating factor. For example, if you carjacked the victim and ordered them out of the car while gently helping them out, your sentencing may be slightly different from that of robbery with violence. The no-harm circumstance can also apply where vandalism is aimed at annoying the victim but not in an inordinately destructive manner.

Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in California? Contact us Now

If you have been charged with a crime and still want to fight for your freedom, you need to get an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you. At The Law Office of Elliott Kanter, we are ready to argue your criminal case in court and defend your constitutional rights. Please get in touch with us online or give us a call at (619) 231-1883 to schedule a consultation.


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