criminal law and procedure

Mitigating Circumstances


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. 

Illustrative caselaw

See, e.g. Magwood v. Patterson, 130 S.Ct. 2788 (2010).

See also



Intentional conduct that is wrongful or unlawful, especially by officials or public employees. Malfeasance is at a higher level of wrongdoing than nonfeasance (failure to act where there was a duty to act) or misfeasance (conduct that is lawful but inappropriate).




1. A local official whose authority is limited to whatever has been granted by statute or specified in the appointment.

2. In local or state courts, a justice of the peace or other judicial officer who has strictly limited authority and jurisdiction to hear certain cases, often criminal cases or small claims.

3. In U.S. federal courts, a judicial officer who has been appointed by a federal district judge to expedite the judicial process by conducting routine hearings and other proceedings.



1) The condition of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Intoxication is not criminal until it impairs a person's ability to operate a vehicle with normal caution ("drunk driving") based on specific levels of alcohol in the blood or, in the case of public drunkenness, when the person becomes unable to care for himself, dangerous to himself or others, or the cause of a disturbance. 2) The defense to a criminal charge, in which the defendant claims that intoxication made it impossible for him to form the intent or specific intent to commit the crime. This defense is available only rarely. (See also: intent, specific intent)


The name of the document, sometimes called a criminal complaint or petition, in which a prosecutor charges a criminal defendant with a crime, either a felony or a misdemeanor. The information tells the defendant what crime he or she is being charged with, as well as against whom and when the offense allegedly occurred. However, the prosecutor need not go into great detail. A defendant who wants more specifics must ask by way of a discovery request. Compare: indictment


Subscribe to RSS - criminal law and procedure