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What are mitigating factors?

On Behalf of | Nov 11, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Regardless of the type of criminal charges you face, one of the first questions on your mind is how you can eliminate the charges – or at least reduce them. That is why it is critical for individuals to understand their rights, including the right to legal counsel.

However, it can also help to understand the matters that courts might consider to reduce the charges. These mitigating factors could make a big difference in minimizing the charges and risks individuals face.

Certain circumstances can help reduce charges

As the term implies, mitigating factors are details or circumstances that can potentially counteract and minimize criminal charges. In North Carolina, these factors can include, but are not limited to:

  • If the individual does not have a criminal record
  • If they were under duress to commit the crime
  • If they played a minor role in the crime
  • If they have a mental condition that affects their reasoning and responsibility
  • If there were extenuating circumstances involving the victim

While the more well-known aggravating factors can significantly increase the charges and penalties individuals could face, mitigating factors can have the opposite effect.

Important note: Mitigating factors can often work subjectively

Even though North Carolina law specifically lists these mitigating factors, it is not set in stone that they will always affect a criminal case. These matters are quite subjective and they depend on several other details, including:

  • The charges and type of crime committed
  • The judge
  • Other relevant details of the situation

A defense attorney will investigate all of the circumstances surrounding the charges to identify any of these factors and build a strong defense. Even so, it is important to be aware of these mitigating factors, as well as how they can help you in the event you face criminal charges.