In Illinois, after you have plead guilty to a crime or been convicted at trial, what is known as the sentencing phase of your case begins. During sentencing, the court will look over the facts and circumstances surrounding your crime and decide what sentence is appropriate. “Mitigating factors” are circumstances that suggest a crime was not as serious as the charge implies or a harsh sentence is not warranted. When successfully argued, these factors may lead to a lighter sentence. If you are facing felony or misdemeanor charges, it is important that you work with an experienced attorney who can present any mitigating factors that may help you avoid harsh sentencing.
During sentencing, the prosecutor will present any aggravating factors - circumstances that make the crime more serious. Your attorney will then have the opportunity to present mitigating factors. When present, mitigating factors can influence the court to reduce your sentence. In some cases, substantial mitigating factors can lead to the court reducing jail time or ordering probation, treatment, or other sentences that do not include incarceration. Mitigating factors in Illinois include:
No Criminal History - If the defendant has no other criminal charges on his or her record, this may help him or her avoid harsher criminal penalties.
No Serious Harm - If the defendant did not cause or threaten any serious harm to a victim, the court may consider the crime less serious.
Justification - Illinois recognizes that sometimes there is a substantial explanation or justification for a defendant’s actions, even if it does not amount to a defense.
Mental Illness or Disability - If the defendant suffers from a mental illness or substance abuse problem, the court may decide that the defendent would benefit from court-supervised treatment rather than incarceration.
Restitution - Defendants who have already begun compensating their victim may receive lighter sentences. This shows remorse and a desire to “right the wrong.”
Recidivism Unlikely - The court can consider other factors that suggest a defendant is unlikely to commit more crimes.
Unexpected Circumstances - Illinois courts are aware that sometimes people commit crimes as the result of unexpected circumstances that are not likely to reoccur.
These are just a few of the mitigating factors recognized in the state of Illinois. Your attorney may raise any of these or others to help reduce your potential sentence.
If you have been charged with a crime in Illinois, you will need an experienced Arlington Heights criminal defense lawyer who will raise any mitigating factors that exist in your case. Working with a knowledgeable attorney gives you the best chance of avoiding tough sentencing even if you ultimately plead guilty. Call Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law at 847-253-3400 to schedule a free consultation.
Client accused of burglary was acquitted due to our skillful cross examination of eye witness identification.
Client accused of causing the death of another while driving under the influence - Acquitted.
Client accused of first degree murder - Acquitted.
Client accused of embezzlement - Charges never filed.
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