After a person is convicted of an offence, the next important step is determining the offence’s sentence (punishment). Before the court passes a sentence, the court will hear the prosecution’s arguments as well as the defence’s arguments.
The prosecution’s arguments concerning the sentence are put forth in the form of their sentencing submissions. In contrast, the defence’s arguments concerning the sentence are put forth in the form of a mitigation plea.
What is the purpose?
The broad purpose of a mitigation plea is to assist the court in determining punishment for an accused person that is fair and just for the offence that they committed. This includes highlighting mitigating factors.
A mitigation plea ought to be distinguished from a legal defence; a mitigation plea is put forth after an accused person is convicted of the offence, and it is not used to argue for an acquittal. A well-drafted mitigation plea would include factors that aim to convince the court to impose a lower sentence.
What are some mitigating factors?
Mitigating factors can be either legal arguments or factual arguments.
Legal arguments include raising past cases where the court has imposed a particular sentence and using that as a benchmark to argue that your case is deserving of a similar or lighter sentence.
If you are facing multiple offences, arguments may be made in relation to the global sentence and how the sentences ought to be served (whether consecutively or concurrently).
Factual arguments may include assessing the full set of circumstances of the case and highlighting factors that show your degree of culpability. These may include;
- your involvement in the offence,
- whether you had any prior antecedents,
- whether you had a mental condition that could have contributed to the commission of the crime,
- whether you cooperated with the authorities,
- and whether you have made restitution or compensation to the victim.