Could Mitigating Factors Reduce My Sentence in a Criminal Case?

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
February 4, 2021

Being charged with a serious crime can leave you feeling anxious about the future. However, keep in mind that judges must consider several factors before sentencing a convicted defendant. One of these considerations is the mitigating factors that may give a defendant a lesser sentence.

Mitigation is a multi-step procedure that can offer convicted offenders more options for penalties. If you’ve been accused of a crime in Southeast Pennsylvania, and you’re worried about receiving a harsh sentence, you should consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney immediately. Montgomery County criminal defense lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. can clarify which mitigating factors may lessen your sentencing in a criminal case in Pennsylvania.  

What Is Mitigation During a Criminal Case in Pennsylvania?

Mitigation happens immediately before a convicted defendant is sentenced. This process enables the defendant to introduce personal details to convince the court to impose a reduced sentence. Mitigation is available during various criminal cases, including capital cases, serious felonies, and non-violent offenses.

One frequently used mitigation factor is a troubled or traumatic past. The defendant or their probation officer often provides this explanation for the court to consider mitigating their sentence. In any case, it depends on the unique circumstances surrounding the charge and the individual.

Mitigating Factors for Sentencing a Criminal Case in Pennsylvania

A defendant must provide persuasive context if they want to have their punishment lessened upon a conviction. That involves analyzing all elements of a defendant’s life to introduce compelling circumstances for a judge to evaluate. The two categories of evidence that a court will generally consider apply information about either the defendant or the crime. Below are the most frequently cited mitigating factors that may reduce a sentence in a Southeast Pennsylvania criminal case:

Clean Criminal Record

A relatively common mitigating factor used to reduce sentencing is a lack of a criminal record. Even if your criminal record includes a minor offense, a judge may grant leniency in sentencing. Often, small-time and first-time offenders receive reduced penalties compared to serious habitual offenders.

Defendant’s Role in the Crime

The role the defendant played in a crime is one of the most frequently cited mitigating factors to reduce criminal sentencing. If an offender played a small part in the offense they perpetrated, this circumstance might serve as a mitigating factor. For example, being a small-time drug dealer is not as severe as participating in drug distribution in Pennsylvania, which may justify a lower sentence.

Relative Necessity

When a defendant breaks the law out of relative necessity, a judge may consider this mitigating factor and grant leniency in sentencing. For example, in the case of a person caught stealing clothes from a department store to dress their freezing children, this may be considered a relative necessity during criminal sentencing.

Victim Culpability

Another mitigating factor in reducing sentencing in Pennsylvania is victim culpability, which essentially removes some of the defendant’s guilt. For example, in an instance where the victim initiated or participated in a criminal offense and the victim overreacted while defending themselves, victim culpability may be a viable mitigating factor.

Troubled Past

A defendant with a troubled personal background could contend that their brutal actions were, to some degree, owing to the mistreatment or abuse they experienced from relatives or other parties who affected their lives.


An addiction to drugs or alcohol may be considered a mitigating factor to reduce criminal consequences. Addiction is no excuse for committing a crime and is consequently a nonviable defense strategy. Still, a judge may consider it a mitigating factor if a defendant demonstrated a genuine effort to recover, but a relapse led to their criminal activity.

Accepting Responsibility

Showing remorse and accepting responsibility for your acts is always an excellent mitigating factor in a judge’s eyes. If you are honest and forthright about the crimes you committed while showing respect to the court, you will fare far better than others who show zero remorse. Recognizing the damage you caused often demonstrates to a judge that you want to move forward from a criminal lifestyle and deserve a second chance that a lowered sentence may provide.

Southeastern Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorneys Fighting for Sentence Reductions

If you or a loved one is facing conviction for an offense and would like to discuss possibilities to lessen the punishment, we invite you to consult with our Montgomery County criminal defense lawyers at Rubin, Gifford, Steinberg & Glickman P.C. For over 65 years, we have provided nationally recognized legal services to clients throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania.

We are ready to work tirelessly to find and introduce mitigating factors to help protect your best interest. To speak with a seasoned criminal defense attorney over a free case review, complete a contact form or call today at (215) 822-7575.

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
February 4, 2021
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.