Mitigation: The Humanizing Approach

A hallmark of Hunt & Tuegel, PLLC, is a commitment to a new approach to sentencing through the use of mitigation evidence. This concept helps ensure that the client is viewed not just as a "police report" or "statistic" but as a fellow human being. It also helps ensure the story of an accused person in a criminal case will not only be told in the prosecutor's words, through the person's criminal history, through police reports or through a probation officer's reports.

Instead, the defense lawyer devotes the necessary time, thought and effort to gathering mitigating evidence enabling the lawyer to create a persuasive description of the circumstances or other things in a person's life that played a part in shaping the person's behavior. Such information can help others better understand behavior that violates the law.

Mitigation experts say that a mitigation story "connects the dots," enabling reasonable people to comprehend the causes and effects that led to criminal charges. A mitigation story is not intended to evoke pity, but rather, understanding and empathy. An attorney applying a mitigation approach will prepare to explain how the experiences of clients' lives have shaped their behavior.

Common and effective mitigation themes may include:

  • Intellectual disability
  • Mental illness
  • Victim of child abuse, neglect or abandonment
  • Poverty (urban or rural)
  • Illiteracy
  • Toxin exposure
  • Institutional failure
  • Drug abuse
  • Genetic disabilities
  • Physical health or medical problems
  • Chronic illness
  • Head trauma
  • PTSD
  • Alcoholism

Those are examples of common "negatives" in a person's life that may lead him or her into situations resulting in criminal charges. On the other side of the coin, positive descriptors also play a role in the mitigation approach. For example, testimonies and other evidence may demonstrate that the person is:

  • A good mother, father, son or daughter
  • A good husband or wife
  • A good friend or neighbor
  • A hard worker and dedicated employee
  • Active in the community

Why Mitigation?

A 2004 Supreme Court case established a place for individualized capital sentencing that accounts for the unique characteristics of the defendant. We have extensive experience in representing capital clients, which has shaped our approach to mitigation in noncapital criminal cases as well. Our belief in the power and value of mitigation in noncapital criminal cases, means that when a prosecutor, jury or judge considers your criminal case, we do not want your story to be told only by the prosecutor, your past criminal history, the police or a probation officer. The humanizing approach to criminal defense means that your voice will be heard more comprehensively and persuasively than in traditional approaches focusing on just the technicalities of the law.

Interested? Contact our Waco, TX, law offices to learn how we may apply the mitigation approach to your defense after a drug crime, violent crime or other criminal case.