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The Importance of Mitigation in Sentencing

Posted on November 5, 2019 in assault & violent crimes

When it comes to sentencing, having the right things to say can make all the difference.  Arizona law provides for wide ranges of sentences upon conviction and gives judges a significant amount of discretion as to how to sentence a defendant.  This is true for both misdemeanors and felonies.  When deciding how to sentence a person for a crime, judges look at a variety of factors, but certain ones, called mitigating factors, are those which the judge may consider in order to give a person a lesser sentence.

What are Mitigating Factors?

Courts are specifically instructed by Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-701 to consider a defendant’s age, their capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of their conduct or inability to conform to the requirements of the law, duress, level of participation, compliance with certain motor vehicle laws, and “[a]ny other factor that is relevant to the defendant’s character or background or to the nature or circumstances of the crime and that the court finds to be mitigating.”  This final “catch-all” mitigator has been found to include community support, substance abuse issues, remedial measures taken by a defendant, remorse, acceptance of responsibility, and many, many more factors.

Types of Mitigating Factors

Providing the court with this mitigation is a skill that good attorneys must possess in order to help their clients obtain the lowest possible sentence in their case.  Your attorney may ask you about:

  • Your childhood
  • Your education
  • Substantial psychological trauma or diagnoses
  • Physical injuries and medical issues
  • Family life
  • Future plans
  • Counseling and treatment received
  • And more

Why is Mitigation Important?

The reason for this is simple: you must provide a judge with the justification needed to sentence you appropriately.  Merely getting up there and saying that you’re sorry is not typically enough.  The importance of mitigation is best highlighted by the Class 2 Felony sentencing range.  If you are convicted of a Class 2 Felony and have no prior convictions, you can be sentenced anywhere from 3 years to 12.5 years in prison or receive probation for up to 7 years.  Mitigation can make the difference between no incarceration and spending more than a decade in prison.

Contact an attorney experienced in mitigation today

If you are facing criminal charges or have already been convicted, you should not leave your sentencing to chance or judicial caprice.  An attorney with experience in mitigation work is the best step you can take to obtain a shorter sentence in your case.  The team at AZ Defenders have decades of collective experience in collecting and presenting mitigation.  Don’t leave it up to chance, call us at 480-456-6400 or contact us online today for a free consultation to find out how we can help you get the best possible result in your case.

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