A question I am frequently asked, is “Is spending money on a mitigation report worth it?” The answer is a resounding yes. Judges often have a sentence in mind that they believe fits the defendant, the circumstances, and the crime. They will take into consideration the defendant’s role in the crime, lack of substantial criminal records, victim culpability, the circumstances coinciding with the offense, the mental and physical illnesses of the defendant, and genuine remorse.

If you have a client with a first offense, then mitigation is definitely a winning strategy at sentencing, or the client was acting out of fear of the alleged victim, mitigation could result in a substantially lower sentence. Mental and physical illnesses are considered mitigating factors, much more so than in years past, especially if the onset of the illness was close in time to the actual offense. Genuine remorse is also very persuasive in sentencing, and an alleged victim’s testimony about the client’s remorse could be worked into the overall mitigation strategy.

While credit for pre-sentence home detention or halfway house attendance is not considered as credit toward a sentence in Federal court, a variance of the sentence could be requested for any pre-sentence time in which the client’s liberty was decreased. Another option would be to request that the sentence is split into varying degrees. For instance, a defendant sentenced to 18 months in prison could request six months in prison, six months in a halfway house, and six months of home monitoring. It never hurts to ask!

No matter the mitigating factor(s), your mitigation team should stack the report with evidence of the mitigating circumstance, such as letters from doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, family members, a spouse, rehabilitation meeting leaders, etc. The proof should be unequivocal and included in the report. Nothing speaks louder than a client who has actively engaged in his or her own rehabilitation, therapy, and counseling. If appropriate, a client could debrief with law enforcement. You should be there to represent your client at that time, and debriefing could be the difference between a longer-term and a short-term or alternative sentence.

There are many instances in which providing a mitigation report is part of a winning strategy for your client. Mitigation is definitely worth the time and the cost.

If you are looking for an effective mitigation strategy for your client’s case, please do not hesitate to contact the Downward Departure Specialists at 916-224-4680.