Criminal Defense Attorney Stresses Mitigating Factors in South Carolina Sentencing
Columbia advocate pursues thorough strategies for reduction of penalties
Despite the merits of your defense to criminal charges, you may not be able to avoid a conviction. Nevertheless, a skilled defense lawyer can make a convincing case for imposing a less severe sentence due to the existence of special circumstances. Jack B. Swerling, Attorney at Law, is experienced in using mitigating factors in South Carolina.
What are mitigating factors?
After a defendant has been convicted, the criminal court will consider various factors in imposing a sentence. Mitigating factors consist of characteristics of the defendant or circumstances of the criminal conduct that weigh in favor of a more lenient sentence. Judges in South Carolina have wide discretion in deciding how much weight to give each factor. The more mitigating factors that exist in your case, the more likely it is that the court will reduce your penalties. Mr. Swerling understands how these factors work and will make well-supported arguments in seeking the best outcome in the sentencing phase of your case.
Is a first-time offense a mitigating factor?
By statute, the absence of a prior conviction for a crime of violence must be considered as a mitigating factor in determining the sentence for someone convicted of murder charges in South Carolina or of charges of sexual abuse of a minor. Although not required in other cases, judges often consider the absence of a prior criminal record as a mitigating factor in criminal prosecutions under both state and federal criminal law. If you are convicted of any crime, for the first time, Mr. Swerling will stress that fact during sentencing.
Examples of common mitigating factors
A criminal court may consider any relevant information as a mitigating factor. Among the most common factors are these:
- The defendant expresses remorse.
- The defendant has no prior criminal record.
- The defendant had a minor role in the crime.
- The victim was partially culpable.
- The defendant was mentally or emotionally disturbed.
- The defendant was acting under duress.
- No real harm resulted from the defendant’s actions.
A judge may also consider other extenuating circumstances that make the defendant seem more eligible for lenient treatment. Mr. Swerling will raise any and all mitigating factors that might have a chance of reducing your sentence.
Just as mitigating factors favor a lower sentence, aggravating factors are those that support a more severe sentence. Part of an effective sentencing strategy is to dispute or minimize the effect of any aggravating factors asserted in your case.
Sentencing with mitigating factors
South Carolina judges have wide discretion in deciding what sentence to impose, which allows them to take into account both mitigating and aggravating factors. Mr. Swerling’s goal during the sentencing phase is to present a sympathetic picture of the defendant to the maximum extent possible. The fewer aggravating factors and the more mitigating factors apply, the more lenient the sentence is likely to be. For instance, a genuinely remorseful defendant with a clean record who played only a minor role in the crime will likely receive only a fraction of the time a hardened criminal would and might even get probation, if that is available as a sentencing option. Mr. Swerling will pursue a sentencing strategy that is best suited to achieving an optimal result in your case.
Contact a dedicated South Carolina criminal defense attorney to seek a reduced sentence
It isn’t always possible to avoid conviction of a crime, but Jack B. Swerling, Attorney at Law in Columbia will make a strong case that mitigating factors justify a lighter sentence in your particular situation. Call 800-701-0599 or contact him online for a consultation.