As a Criminal Defense Attorney, you’re familiar with Probation’s Pre-Sentencing Reports. These reports highlight the defendant’s health, family and social history, criminal history, substance abuse, employment, and education. These reports generally don’t go into much detail, except for the criminal history. Probation reports often emphasize bad deeds, poor critical thinking skills, and poor choices. Probation reports are not neutral. They are a product of the criminal justice system and skewed toward the Prosecution.

On the other hand, MItigation reports also cover the same aspects of the defendant’s life but in much greater detail. The details in these reports, including quotes from people who witnessed the defendant throughout different developmental stages, make the difference. These observations are invaluable in telling the defendant’s story.

Below are some examples of how our mitigation reports can aid in persuading a judge to consider a lesser sentence.

  1. Where a Probation Report might claim the defendant was terminated from employment for tardiness, the mitigation report can tell the story of the defendant’s diligent search for reliable childcare, the lack of which led to repeated tardiness. The mitigation report can include reports from the employer, the daycare providers, the daycare provider coordinators, etc.
  2. Repeated attempts at rehabilitation and recovery can be documented more thoroughly, and interviews with counselors can be included. Rather than just saying, “defendant did not complete high school,” a mitigation report can emphasize the defendant’s dyslexia, the school system’s failure to identify learning disabilities, the shame and degradation the defendant felt at the hands of numerous bullies. By going into greater detail and emphasizing the defendant’s perspective, the defendant becomes a person, another human being walking through life with difficulties.
  3. Family and social history is often brief in probation reports and can often highlight parents’ and siblings’ criminal activity. Mitigation reports bring the reader into the defendant’s life and what it felt like to grow up inside the family. We speak with family members, clergy, teachers, neighbors, social workers, foster parents, and anyone that had a significant impact on the defendant’s life.

Case Study:
Our agency recently had a case where food scarcity, extreme poverty, and a parent’s mental illness were devastating facts of the defendant’s early childhood and school experience. His extended family was able to give vivid details of what life was like, the misery, and how the defendant showed relief during his eight foster care placements because no matter how bad the foster parents treated him, he knew he would get fed regularly.

These stories are vitally important during sentencing. Rather than just an uncaring recital of poor behavior and criminal records, a mitigation report prepared for the defense provides a window into the defendant’s challenges and experiences. Judges need to hear these stories, not only to humanize the defendant but to fully understand what may have led to the commission of the crime.

To obtain a lesser sentence for your client, be sure to call Downward Departure Specialists at 916-224-4680. We will humanize your client to the Judge through our mitigation reports.