Whether the evidence against you is overwhelming and you’re convicted at trial or you’ve simply resolved to plead guilty in court, mitigation becomes the next area for your defense attorney to address.
A mitigating factor is basically anything that might indicate a reduced level of culpability on your part. It can also be something that shows the court that putting you behind bars for a lengthy period would serve no purpose, either because you’ve already taken steps to rehabilitate yourself or you are no real danger to anyone and not likely to re-offend.
While the law in North Carolina does allow the judge in a case to consider anything that’s “reasonably related” to the issue of sentencing, it also lists the following specific mitigating factors that can be used:
- You acted under duress due to threats or some other type of coercion that couldn’t otherwise be claimed as part of your defense.
- You were a minor player or only a passive participant in the crime.
- You already made restitution (in whole or a substantial part) to the victim.
- You have a mental or physical condition (such as an untreated mental illness) that reduces your culpability.
- You are particularly young, immature or have limited mental capacity.
- You couldn’t reasonably foresee the harm or fear your actions caused or tried to prevent it.
- You helped the police catch someone else involved in criminal activity or testified against someone else for the prosecution.
- Your victim was over 16 years old and consented to your actions.
- You were strongly provoked by the victim.
- You reasonably thought your actions were legal.
- You have a good reputation in your community, a good character, enjoy community support or have a solid employment history.
- You admitted what you did to the police before you were even arrested.
- You’re a minor and will be supervised closely if released.
- You’re an honorably discharged veteran.
- You have a drug or alcohol addiction and entered a treatment program after your arrest (but before trial).
- You’re the main support for your family.
It’s smart to keep mitigation in mind from the very start of your case. Make sure that you talk these issues over with your Asheville attorney as soon as possible. If the worst happens, you want to be prepared for this stage of your defense.