Sentencing Mitigation

Obtaining a Reduced Sentence in Arizona

In Arizona, the law affords defendants the opportunity to put forth evidence that shows they are entitled to a reduced sentence. This opportunity is afforded after guilt has been decided, and is the defendant’s only opportunity to show the judge and jury reasons why their particular situation deserves extra deference before the law.

Mitigating evidence is presented to the Court during the sentencing phase of the trial. Sentencing term lengths are mandated by law, where Courts must follow sentencing guidelines established by the Arizona Legislature. The sentences that Courts are bound to impose, depend on the category of the crime (felony or misdemeanor), the degree of felony or misdemeanor, and whether the defendant has a criminal history.

The Court uses this information to find the “presumptive sentence,” the sentence required by law that the Court must impose. This presumptive sentence is the Court’s starting point for the amount of time a defendant is to be sentenced to. However, there is a range that the Court is able to work within, in determining a proper sentence in each case. Starting with the lowest sentence, this range is categorized as follows: mitigated sentence, minimum sentence, presumptive sentence, maximum sentence and aggravated sentence.

To decide on the proper sentence, the Court relies on aggravating and mitigating factors presented by the State and Defendant, respectively. The goal of mitigating evidence is to persuade the judge to impose as low of a sentence as possible. Any sentence the Court imposes must be supported and justified by the aggravating and mitigating circumstances. So it is vitally important that the Defendant gives the Court as much mitigating evidence as possible in order for the Court to be able to justify imposing a mitigated sentence.

Arizona law controls what types of evidence may be shown for purposes of mitigation, and what must be considered. According to A.R.S. 13-701, the court must consider:

  1. “The age of the defendant.
  2. The defendant’s capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of the defendant’s conduct or to conform the defendant’s conduct to the requirements of law was significantly impaired, but not so impaired as to constitute a defense to prosecution.
  3. The defendant was under unusual or substantial duress, although not to a degree that would constitute a defense to prosecution.
  4. The degree of the defendant’s participation in the crime was minor, although not so minor as to constitute a defense to prosecution.
  5. During or immediately following the commission of the offense, the defendant complied with all duties imposed under sections 28-661, 28-662 and 28-663.
  6. Any other factor that is relevant to the defendant’s character or background or to the nature or circumstances of the crime and that the court finds to be mitigating.”

Most defense attorneys have standardized packets for the defendant to complete to submit to the Court during sentencing. These packets make an attempt at painting an entire picture of who the defendant is, for the Court to have a general understanding of their background and situation. They also are geared towards humanizing the defendant, engendering understanding and compassion from the Court, and attempting to remove some of the negative perceptions that come with being a criminal defendant, so the Court can make a neutral and well-informed decision.

Mr. Garcia has a history of effectively arguing for mitigated sentences for his clients. He strongly believes that individuals with mental illness should be treated differently than defendants with no mental illness. He utilizes a team of forensic mental health experts to educate courts and prosecutors regarding the mitigating factors of each client’s mental health history. He believes that it is appropriate to ensure the court and prosecutors adequately take into consideration his client’s mental health background in each and every case he handles. Whether his clients suffer from Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, PTSD or any other mental illness; he believes that his client’s mental illness is a mitigating factor to be presented to the sentencing court.

(Every case is different and your results may vary.)

In United States v. T.S., Mr. Garcia secured a mitigated sentence for a man convicted of 3 bank robberies, 2 of which involved the use of a deadly weapon. At the time the defendant was suffering from a brain injury. Years prior he underwent brain surgery to remove an abscess near his left frontal lobe. That, in turn, left the defendant with constant headaches and inescapable pain for years afterward. Using all this medical information, Mr. Garcia sought and was awarded for his client, the dismissal of one count of armed robbery and one count of robbery. This resulted in a downward departure in sentencing from a maximum sentence of 25 years to a sentence of time served and 5 years probation.

In Arizona v. K.A., Mr. Garcia acquired a suspended sentence for a woman convicted of child abuse. At the time of the offense the Defendant suffered from Psychosis, Bipolar I Disorder, and manic episodes. These were presented by Mr. Garcia during sentencing as mitigating factors, and the defendant’s sentence was suspended with the condition of 5 years probation.

In Arizona v. E.N., Mr. Garcia achieved a suspended sentence for a man convicted of arson in an occupied structure. The Defendant suffered from Bipolar Disorder (manic), and psychosocial stressors with a history of mental illness including psychiatric hospitalizations. Using these mental health factors as mitigation, Mr. Garcia gained for his client, a suspended sentence on a condition of four years probation.

Mr. Garcia keenly and skilfully uses the circumstances in one’s life to argue for a just and proper sentence in a court of law. Hire Mr. Garcia to effectively represent you or your family member during this difficult time.