Our team recently performed a mitigation investigation for an attorney-client representing a 22-year-old defendant charged with carjacking. This defendant had a juvenile record that did not include violent history but did include a stay at a Boys Ranch that made the news a few years ago. The adults at the ranch were caught pitting the boys against each other in fights and then making bets on which boy would ultimately win. This was traumatizing to the boys involved, including our defendant.

We first gathered every record we could find and immediately set out to find anyone who had worked at the Boys Ranch. We interviewed both adults and other juveniles from the ranch. We spoke with teachers, neighbors, and extended family members of the defendant. Our mitigation story was formed through the records we collected and the people we interviewed. The defendant’s exposure was 25 years – basically his crucial adult years of life.

We investigated the crime itself and found that our defendant did not use a firearm and was not armed at all during the offense. We found the co-defendant was the responsible party for the weapon use. We included the defendant’s lesser involvement in our report in the hope of limiting his exposure.

By the time our report was submitted to the Prosecution for review, we were able to show that the defendant was the lesser involved party because he did not plan the carjacking and did not participate in intimidating the victim driver. We highlighted the defendant’s struggle with learning disabilities, frequent moves, and his mother’s severe mental illness. Through interviews, the crushing emotions the defendant felt when his father left the family were palpable. His time at the ranch was told in detail through interviews with other boys and adults. His susceptibility to stronger personalities was woven throughout the report.

If given all the charges, the defendant’s exposure was 25 years. The Prosecutor responded to the report with an offer of seven years! This type of reduced sentence is why many of our attorney clients use our mitigation work to negotiate a better plea agreement. By giving the Prosecution a peek at what is expected at sentencing, defendants can often receive a better offer. The expense, time commitment, and risk of a trial are avoided, and the defendant receives a workable offer.

Downward Departure Specialists are experts at crafting a mitigation strategy designed to engage the Prosecution in a discussion for a realistic offer. If you are looking for an effective mitigation strategy for your client’s case, contact the Downward Departure Specialists at 916-224-4680.