Mitigating circumstances refer to conditions, facts, or events that offset a person’s blame or responsibility. The courts use mitigating circumstances in reducing a defendant’s liability (in a lawsuit) or charges (in a criminal case). They often involve personal or family situations that make the person’s actions seem more reasonable, but don’t actually excuse them.
Examples of mitigating circumstances could include:
- A son shoots his father after being beaten or abused for years
- A spouse who kills their partner after finding out they were unfaithful
- Getting a speeding ticket when you were driving fast because of an emergency
Some factors that might be considered mitigating circumstances are the age of the convict, acting as a product of abuse, or having an otherwise clean criminal background. For a mitigating factor to be relevant in the eyes of the law, the circumstance must be obviously connected to the offending action. Mitigating circumstances do not excuse or provide a clear justification for the incriminating action, but they are considered in possibly reducing the guilty person’s legal or moral consequences because of the circumstances.
During sentencing, the court will weigh mitigating circumstances against aggravating circumstances, which increase the guilty person’s responsibility for a criminal the act.
Common Mitigating Circumstances
There is no set list of situations that are definitely considered or not considered mitigating circumstances, since the situation largely depends on the details of each case. However, here are some commonly used mitigating factors:
- Age of the defendant: whether the defendant (the person who committed the crime) was an adult or a minor at the time
- History of abuse: whether there is a history of the defendant being abused
- Mental capacity: could include a mental state, mental illness, intellectual disability, or mental retardation of the defendant when the crime was committed
- Victim culpability: whether the victim was willingly a part of the criminal event or other events that could have led to the crime
- No harm is done: when the defendant’s actions didn’t harm another person and were justified in some way
- No criminal record: lacking any prior criminal records before this offense
- Necessity: the crime was committed out of necessity
- Unusual circumstances: the crime was committed because of the defendant was severely provoked or undergoing temporary emotional stress or disturbance
- Remorse: the defendant clearly shows they are remorseful of their actions
Self-defense is not deemed a mitigating factor but rather a legal defense, as an act done in self-defense is not considered a crime. However, the defendant isn’t considered to have acted in self-defense but was provoked to commit the crime, it could be presented as a mitigating circumstance.
During a court hearing, both prosecutors and defendants will have a chance to present their evidence for the court and judge to consider. If mitigating circumstances are presented, these may be considered in reducing the severity of a sentence or the amount of payout a victim could receive as a result of the crime.
Talk to a Georgia Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you were injured by the actions of another person, you’ll need a personal injury lawyer who understands mitigating circumstances and how they may be used in your case. At John Foy & Associates, we’re here to help victims fight for the recovery they deserve after a personal injury. For a FREE consultation to discuss your case and your options, contact us today. Call 404-400-4000, or complete the form to your right to get started today with a free consultation.