Defence Plea in Mitigation
In circumstances where a defendant has been found guilty of committing a criminal offence, as the result of a Jury verdict following a Trial at court or a Plea of Guilty having been made, it falls to a Judge, the Sentencing Judge, to consider and pass the appropriate Sentence.
Such consideration normally takes place at a Sentencing Hearing where the Prosecution will outline the facts, including any previous relevant criminal conviction(s), and present its opinion as to the appropriate Sentence to the Sentencing Judge. Following this, the Defendant, or more likely an advocate on his behalf, is entitled to present submissions to the court, by way of mitigation, seeking the most lenient Sentence possible.
Mohammed Ahmed of Kangs Solicitors outlines factors which will be considered for presentation to the court as part of a defence Plea in Mitigation.
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What is a Defence Plea in Mitigation | Kangs Criminal Defence Team
Every defendant will have a discrete personal history for presentation to the Sentencing Judge in order to encourage the most lenient sentence possible.
The range of permitted sentencing and flexibility available to the Sentencing Judge will, inevitably, vary according to the nature and seriousness of the crime. However, by way of example, it may be available to the Sentencing Judge to impose a Community Order rather than a custodial sentence or, in cases where a custodial sentence is inevitable, to suspend the imposition of custody for a period of time dependent upon continued good behaviour of the defendant.
The Sentencing Judge will have regard to Sentencing Guidelines and it is for the defence where appropriate, to seek to channel the court’s thinking within the lower category of offending as opposed to a higher alternative category.
The Sentencing Judge will not take kindly to being faced with irrelevant and unrealistic pleas on behalf of a defendant and the skill of the defendant’s legal team in the preparation of his Plea in Mitigation will be paramount.
Mitigating circumstances for consideration may include, by way of example:
Relating to the offence:
- the extent and importance of the role of the defendant in the commission of the offence,
- if loss or injury was suffered by the victim, the extent and consequences,
- whether the offence was premeditated or committed without consideration on the spur of the moment,
- whether or not any loss or injury was intended.
Relating to the offender:
- the defendants age and character,
- whether or not the defendant can be seen to have expressed any level of genuine remorse,
- the nature of any previous convictions or cautions,
- whether or not the defendant offered any degree of co-operation with the police throughout their investigations,
- if, and at what stage, a guilty plea was entered to the court,
- the existence and extent of any personal responsibility by way of being sole, or primary carer for a child(ren), disabled or elderly relatives,
- whether the defendant suffers health difficulties, alcohol or drug addiction or debt problems,
- the availability of any supporting good Character References.
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