Cases in which the defendant is perceived in a very poor light can be challenging to mitigate. If the victim is sympathetic, this can cause greater difficulty. How do you convince the jury or the District Attorney to look at the defendant’s humanity? How can you even attempt to mitigate what some would say is unforgivable behavior?

The answer lies in telling the defendant’s story from pre-conception to the present, including the defendant’s parents’ history. How did the parents’ history impact the defendant’s early childhood? Was there trauma before, during, and after the mother’s pregnancy? Was there substance abuse? Was domestic violence a constant in the home? Did the defendant grow up in the same household as his/her siblings?

By interviewing the family members and carefully crafting questions that elicit storytelling, your mitigation report should be full of quotes such as, “My siblings and I had to steal to eat,” “our mother’s boyfriend beat her so badly he broke her jaw in front of us,” or “we were homeless a great deal of the time when he was little, and he didn’t go to school much.”

Then by crafting statements that expand on the quotes received from all the family members, the report can mesmerize the jury. Example: “Our mother attended school to the 8th grade. She got married at 14 and had her first child at 15. She was never married, and her parents kicked her out. My mother’s boyfriend did not allow us to eat. He made us watch him eat. He so frequently beat our mother that he (the defendant) took to hiding in the entry hall closet. He (the defendant) became sickly and weak. I thought he was going to die because he was denied food for so long. It wasn’t until we were removed from our mother’s care that we received regular meals and attended school on a consistent basis. By then, he was eleven years old.”

By painting a genuine picture of the defendant’s parents’ challenges along with the bleak childhood the defendant experienced, it is possible to create empathy for the defendant. Maybe the majority of the jurors can’t relate to the defendant’s upbringing, but they can empathize with a child who has been the victim of neglect, abuse, and poor education. Through a well-written mitigation memorandum, they can understand just what the defendant endured and what experiences helped shape the behavior that was a part of the crime. Bringing the defendant’s humanity into the open will help the jury understand how someone could commit such a crime and obtain a lesser sentence.

Downward Departure Specialists are experts at crafting well-written memorandums that help you develop a mitigation strategy to obtain a sentencing variance for your clients. If you are looking for a mitigation specialist to provide you with what you need to build that effective strategy for your client’s case, contact the Downward Departure Specialists at 916-224-4680.