Factors that lessen the severity or culpability of a criminal act, including, but not limited to, defendant's age or extreme mental or emotional disturbance at the time the crime was committed, mental retardation, and lack of a prior criminal record. Recognition of particular mitigating circumstances varies by jurisdiction.
See, e.g. Magwood v. Patterson, 130 S.Ct. 2788 (2010).
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
Information about the defendant that does not justify or excuse a criminal act or civil wrong, but that may reduce the defendant's degree of culpability. In criminal law, juries consider mitigating circumstances when deciding whether to impose the death sentence in a capital case, and judges may consider them when selecting a sentence. In civil cases, mitigating circumstances may reduce the amount of damages awarded to the plaintiff.
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:20 pm