Criminal defense attorneys put a lot of work into arguing the innocence of their clients. However, some defendants plead guilty. Others are convicted, notwithstanding the best efforts of their lawyers. In Arizona, the law gives lawyers the opportunity to argue for lesser sentences for their clients. Sentences may be reduced for mentally ill defendants in Arizona.
After a defendant has been found guilty, he or she is afforded an opportunity to show the judge and jury reasons why he or she deserves a more lenient sentence. The arguments are made by the defendant’s lawyer.
So-called mitigating evidence is presented to the court during the sentencing phase of the trial. The courts are restricted to sentencing term lengths mandated by law. This means a judge or a jury must follow sentencing guidelines established by the Arizona Legislature.
The sentences that courts give depend on the nature of the crime, Felonies carry higher sentences than misdemeanors. The degree of felony or misdemeanor is a factor as well as the defendant’s prior criminal history.
The court gathers this pertinent information to find a “presumptive sentence. This is the sentence that’s required by law.
The presumptive sentence is a starting point for prison time associated with the offense or the level of fine.
The court works within a range that includes a mitigated sentence, a minimum sentence, a presumptive sentence, a maximum sentence, and an aggravated sentence.
What Factors Can Lead to Mitigating Circumstances in Arizona Sentencing?
Under A.R.S. 13-701 mentally ill defendants and others may receive a lesser sentence when the following circumstances are taken into consideration. The court also considers aggravating circumstances.
Any sentence imposed by the court must be supported and justified by the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. It’s vital to present as much mitigating evidence as possible, including:
- The defendant’s age.
- The capacity of the accused to appreciate the wrongfulness of his or her conduct;
- Duress on the behalf of the defendant, although not duress that would constitute a defense to prosecution.
- If the defendant only had a minor role in the crime, albeit not insignificant enough to be a defense to prosecution.
- Any factor relevant to the defendant’s character or background or to the nature or circumstances of the offense that the court finds to be mitigating.
Typically, defense lawyers have standardized packets for the defendant to complete to give to the court during sentencing. We will make sure to present as complete a picture as possible of the defendant and to highlight any factors that can lead to mitigation. These may include evidence of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Hire Bernardo Garcia to represent you in your case. Find out more about sentencing mitigation in Arizona on our website or call (602) 340-1999.