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Mitigating Circumstances

January 2, 2020

Mitigating circumstances is a type of strategy used in legal defense. It can be a vital component of the defense for criminal theft charges. While there are sentencing guidelines written down in federal and state legislature, the defendant’s fate is ultimately in the hands of the prosecution and the judge. The more selfish, unfavorable, and malicious their actions seem, the harsher their sentence is likely to be.

The goal of the prosecution is to paint the defendant in as unflattering a light as possible. To mitigate the circumstances, a defense lawyer will introduce evidence that addresses the conduct of the defendant and explains negative or adverse aspects of the crime in a compelling, favorable manner.

There are many cases of theft where the actual events have nuance. The person may have committed the crime in question, but they might have believed they had good reason or not realized how much damage they were doing. If their goodwill isn’t shown to the judge and the prosecution, then the theft will look malicious with nothing to offset it.

When a person has committed the crime in question, they might offer an explanation for their actions that helps the judge to understand what they were thinking and how they didn’t intend harm. This can be more helpful than unequivocally denying having committed the action when there’s strong evidence to the contrary.

In fact, depending on the courtroom and the judge, the defendant may be actively afforded an opportunity to explain any mitigating circumstances. The judge might ask the defendant why they should care about the outcome of the case. This gives the defendant a chance to explain who they are and to present themselves as a productive member of society who accidentally made a mistake.

If a person is able to come across as sympathetic and remorseful, there’s a good chance that their sentence will be lighter. It also helps to make restitution or create a plan for restitution in the future. Your ability to paint yourself as a sympathetic but flawed individual can make the difference between a misdemeanor and felony charge, probation instead of incarceration, or even a complete lack of a criminal conviction.

This is part of why a defense lawyer is so important. In addition to protecting you from law enforcement and explaining your options, your lawyer will have advice for how you should present yourself to the judge. They might help you rehearse your explanation of your mitigating circumstances. In an ideal case, the end result will be conflict resolution. You want to get a sentence that helps the victims of the crime feel like they’ve gotten closure while also helping you move forward with your life.

Downward Departure

A downward departure is a reduction in a person’s potential sentence or the severity of their charges. Downward departures often occur when there are mitigating circumstances, the defendant has expressed remorse, and they’ve made a reasonable case indicating that they will never do anything like this again.

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

Other circumstances that affect the downward departure of a person’s sentencing include the amount of money or value of the property that was stolen, the ongoing impact on the victim, the relationship the defendant had to the victim, and the position of authority or power that the defendant had. Another big factor is whether the crime was only committed once or was an ongoing theft or fraud scheme.

Upward Departure

On the other hand, there are also a number of factors that could cause a judge to pass down a more harsh sentence on a defendant. If the judge doesn’t accept the mitigating circumstances as valid, or the prosecution creates a compelling picture of malicious intent regardless of the mitigating circumstances, the defendant might be in trouble.

During a court proceeding, questions will be asked regarding the character of the defendant, their motivations in committing the crime, and the harm done to the victim. Any of these circumstances might have a negative impact on a judge’s ruling:

  • The victim suffered serious financial harm that might include being unable to pay their rent, mortgage, or for food
  • The victim suffered serious emotional distress and felt violated
  • The theft was committed due to greed rather than desperation or need
  • The victim was a nonprofit institution, a homeless individual, a mentally ill person, a physically ill person, elderly, or otherwise vulnerable
  • The money was used to further a luxurious and greedy lifestyle
  • The money was not used to help any other individuals, including family members
  • The defendant is incapable or unwilling to make restitution to the victims

If the crime seems to have been committed out of pure greed, a judge is unlikely to have sympathy

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