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What is “mitigation?”

If there is one thing that being an Orange County criminal defense attorney has taught me it is that good people do bad things. And all people have reasons for doing what they do. When a loved one has come into contact with the criminal justice system, it is the role of his criminal defense attorney to make the prosecutor and/or judge understand why. Few actions can be accurately summarized by knee-jerk or one-word responses such as “greed,” “anger” or “lust.” Like the fictional Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables who stole a loaf of bread for his starving sister, many have motives that most would find sympathetic. It is the criminal defense lawyer’s job to find out what, in particular, was going on in a defendant’s life when an incident occurred.

Was he subject to unusual pressures?

Did he simply make a mistake?

Is this the first time something like this has ever happened?

The criminal law attorney must then use that information to humanize the defendant to judge and to the prosecution and invoke their sympathies, if possible. This type of information is called “mitigation.”

This is the first in a 14-part series that looks closely at the types of mitigation that criminal defense lawyers use and helps defendants and their families prepare for their criminal law cases accordingly.

If you or a family member has been charged with a crime in Southern California, call Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a free consultation now.