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What Are Mitigating Circumstances?

Mitigating circumstances may reduce the harshness or cruelty of a charge but cannot excuse an offense. Mitigating circumstances are considered by a court to determine the liability of a defendant or the level of damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff. It can be used to reduce a charge against a defendant. In the legal context, mitigating circumstances can make the crime more understandable. Although the court may consider lessening the penalty but this does not absolutely excuse the crime.

A death penalty sentence can be converted to mitigating circumstances such as age and mental capacity or sometimes childhood trauma. These circumstances are being considered to be able to conduct a reasonable judgment. Mitigating circumstances are considered for reasons of mercy or fairness in judging the level of the offense. Proper evidence should be presented for the factors to be considered. Family or personal situations are included in the circumstances that may attract a less severe sentence than the usual sentence for a certain offense.

There are different factors that the jury are instructed to consider in weighing mitigating circumstances. In some states, absence of violent activity by the defendant, prior felony convictions, mental or emotional disorder, and domination of another person are some of these factors.

Contradictory of mitigating circumstances are aggravating circumstances wherein the court weighs the most severe sentence to the accused against the level or degree of the crime. Although certain circumstances exist, consequences for committing a crime should still prevail because the law does not want to inspire criminals.

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