Just about anyone facing criminal charges in Florida wonders what a judge considers when determining an appropriate sentence for a conviction. In court, a judge is allowed wide discretion when issuing a sentence, and several factors can sway a judge to tailor a sentence that fits the crime committed rather than imposing the maximum penalty.
When determining a sentence, judges consider both aggravating and mitigating factors. Aggravating factors or circumstances can intensify a sentence and push the judge to impose heavier penalties. These can include things like the use of a deadly weapon during an assault or a criminal record that shows previous charges for the same crime. Mitigating factors are details about the crime and the defendant that can support leniency in sentencing.
Top 5 Most Common Mitigating Factors
Judges refer to sentencing laws when establishing the punishment for a crime, and there are many types of punishment besides jail or prison time that they can impose. When considering all options for punishment, these are the top factors they take into account to possibly reduce your sentence:
Playing a minor role: When a defendant’s offense compared to others involved in the crime were minor in nature, his sentence may be lighter than that of the others involved. For example, if a defendant received a small sum for driving someone to complete a drug deal, the defendant should not receive a sentence as harsh as the one the drug dealer would face.
Victim culpability: When the victim in a crime was partially to blame for the crime, by instigating or otherwise, the defendant will likely not be fully blamed for the crime. If the victim provoked the defendant, such as by starting a fight, this would be considered.
Unusual circumstances: If an unusual circumstance causes significant temporary distress to the defendant that affected his judgement when committing the crime, such as the death of a loved one, this can be considered for leniency.
No harm done: Oftentimes, the evidence makes it clear that a defendant did everything possible to avoid causing harm to others. If no harm was caused it can be a strong case for leniency.
No criminal history: Another factor that makes a strong case for leniency is not having a criminal record at all, or only having a minor record. First-time offenders are generally given the lightest sentences, unless aggravating factors are involved to negate the effects of this mitigating factor.
Other factors can include things such as relative necessity for committing the crime — such as stealing from a grocery store to feed your family — or a negative personal history, such as being the victim of abuse. There are many possibilities for mitigating factors, and anything that is relevant to the crime can be suggested. A competent criminal defense attorney considers each factor that works in your favor and presents them to the judge and jury for consideration. With over 30 years of experience defending the criminally accused, you can trust attorney Brian Gabriel for a strong criminal defense. Call 561-622-5575 for a free legal consultation.