mitigating circumstances


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Related to mitigating circumstances: Extenuating circumstances

Mitigating Circumstances

Circumstances that may be considered by a court in determining culpability of a defendant or the extent of damages to be awarded to a plaintiff. Mitigating circumstances do not justify or excuse an offense but may reduce the severity of a charge. Similarly, a recognition of mitigating circumstances to reduce a damage award does not imply that the damages were not suffered but that they have been partially ameliorated.

In criminal cases where the death penalty may be imposed, the Supreme Court has held that, under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, juries must be instructed that they may consider mitigating circumstances such as the defendant's youth, mental capacity, or childhood abuse so that they may reach a reasoned and moral sentencing decision. (See Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302, 109 S. Ct. 2934, 106 L. Ed. 2d 256 [1989].) Mitigating circumstances may be used to reduce a charge against a defendant. In People v. Morrin, 31 Mich. App. 301, 187 N.W.2d 434 (1971), the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed and remanded Morrin's conviction on first-degree murder charges because he committed the murder in the heat of passion caused by adequate legal provocation. The court found that because of these mitigating circumstances, the evidence was insufficient to support a first-degree murder conviction, which requires malice aforethought.

In civil actions mitigating circumstances may be considered to reduce damage awards or the extent of the defendant's liability. In Cerretti v. Flint Hills Rural Electric Cooperative Ass'n, 251 Kan. 347, 837 P.2d 330 (1992), the Supreme Court of Kansas held that a court, in reviewing a damage award, may consider any mitigating circumstances that affected the intent of the defendant, the financial worth of the defendant, or the plaintiff's expenses.

Many states allow defendants in Defamation actions to prove mitigating circumstances by showing that they acted in Good Faith, with honesty of purpose, and without malice in speaking or publishing the defamatory words. If the court is convinced that legitimate mitigating circumstances existed, it may reduce the amount of damages the defendant is required to pay. In Roemer v. Retail Credit Co., 44 Cal. App. 3d 926, 119 Cal. Rptr. 82 (1975), the defendant claimed that the plaintiff defaced the wall of his office, thereby mitigating the defendant's liability for defamatory statements. However, the court did not allow the defendant to introduce this evidence because he could not prove that the plaintiff was responsible for the defacement.

Cross-references

Capital Punishment; Criminal Law.

mitigating circumstances

n. in criminal law, conditions or happenings which do not excuse or justify criminal conduct, but are considered out of mercy or fairness in deciding the degree of the offense the prosecutor charges or influence reduction of the penalty upon conviction. Example: a young man shoots his father after years of being beaten, belittled, sworn at, and treated without love. "Heat of passion," or "diminished capacity" are forms of such mitigating circumstances. (See: heat of passion, diminished capacity, "twinky" defense)

See: extenuating circumstances

mitigating circumstances

see MITIGATION.
References in periodicals archive ?
But the court added Kim also had mitigating circumstances.
An affect of an ordinary mitigating circumstance is that the minimum period in case of divisible penalty provided by law for a particular crime shall be imposed while the effect of a privileged mitigating circumstance is that the penalty to be imposed shall be lower by 1 or 2 degrees than that provided by law for the crime.
Having unanimously found that at least one aggravating factor has been established beyond a reasonable doubt (Section A), that the aggravating factors are sufficient to warrant a sentence of death (Section B), and the aggravating factors outweigh the mitigating circumstances (Section D), we the jury unanimously find that (Defendant) should be sentenced to death.
Stylianou is also not convinced that the mitigating circumstances justify a suspended sentence.
The organisation has nevertheless said the promoter of this month's gig at Alnwick Castle could cite mitigating circumstances if something happened which was out of its control.
There is a chance the promoter/venue has a clause in their contract that if something happens which is out of their control there is mitigating circumstances.
This could have major repercussions for the justice system as it will be used at subsequent trials as an example, upheld by a judge, of mitigating circumstances.
Capital Sentence Ambiguity Regarding Mitigating Circumstances and the Use of Causal Nexus--Poyson v.
The) NCUA is reviewing the cases to determine whether any of the late filers have mitigating circumstances that warrant a waiver of penalties," the agency said in a release.
On one of the wettest afternoons regulars could recall, the stewards took account of a combination of mitigating circumstances after all eight jockeys in a reduced field - also among them Kingman's partner James Doyle - failed to respond to the yellow recall flag and completed the course, despite starter James Stenning having called a false start in the belief Taurus Twins had burst the gates and gained an unfair advantage.
look for mitigating circumstances when a person has committed murder?
Danny even tries to get Nana McQueen onside, and asks her to convince her grandson that he should plead mitigating circumstances.