Mitigating Factor

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Any fact or circumstance that lessens the severity or culpability of a criminal act.  Mitigating factors include an ability for the criminal to reform, mental retardation, an addiction to illegal substances or alcohol that contributed to the criminal behavior, and past good deeds, among many others.  Recognition of particular mitigating factors varies by jurisdiction.

See also Aggravating Factors, Criminal Procedure, and the Death Penalty.