What are Mitigating Circumstances for Crimes in North Carolina?

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If you are facing criminal charges in North Carolina, your potential sentence for the offense could be reduced if “mitigating circumstances” are found. In North Carolina, felony sentences depend on whether any mitigating or aggravating circumstances exist.

It is critical to consult with a Charlotte criminal defense attorney to determine whether any mitigating circumstances are present in your case.


gavel-Mitigating-factors-Charlotte-Mooresville-Monroe-Criminal-Defense-Lawyer-300x200Mitigating vs. Aggravating Circumstances for Crimes

The standard sentence imposed on a defendant in North Carolina can be either reduced by mitigating factors or enhanced by aggravating ones. The court will consider both mitigating and aggravating circumstances, if any, prior to sentencing.

The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that aggravating circumstances in a defendant’s case outweigh mitigating ones. Meanwhile, the defendant has the burden of proof to show that mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating ones.

Then, the judge or jury will have to determine whether the prosecution or the defendant has met their burden.


What are Mitigating Circumstances in North Carolina?

North Carolina courts recognize a plethora of mitigating circumstances to mitigate a defendant’s sentence. However, the list of mitigating circumstances is not exhaustive, which is why you should talk to a Charlotte criminal defense lawyer to identify potential mitigating factors in your particular case.

Also, do keep in mind that mitigating circumstances tend to be somewhat subjective and case-by-case specific. The following list of mitigating factors can be found in North Carolina General Statute 15A-1340.16(e). Mitigating circumstances may exist if the defendant:

  • Committed the offense under compulsion, duress, coercion, or threat;
  • Played an insignificant role in the commission of the crime;
  • Had a mental or physical condition that significantly reduced his or her culpability;
  • Has made full or substantial restitution to the plaintiff (the victim);
  • Assisted in the arrest or conviction of another felon or testified on behalf of the prosecution;
  • Was provoked into the commission of the offense;
  • Could not reasonably foresee the resulting negative consequences, including causing or threatening serious bodily injury;
  • Reasonably believed that his or her conduct was lawful;
  • Voluntarily acknowledged the commission of the offense before the arrest or at an early stage of the criminal process;
  • Has a good reputation in the community where he or she lives;
  • Is a minor and has reliable supervision;
  • Has been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces;
  • Has accepted responsibility for his or her wrongdoing;
  • Supports the victim’s family;
  • Has a healthy family support system in the community;
  • Has a positive employment history;
  • Has entered or completed a drug or alcohol treatment program after the arrest;
  • Has a favorable treatment prognosis;
  • The defendant’s culpability for the offense was significantly reduced by his or her age, immaturity, or limited mental capacity; or
  • The victim, who was at least 16 years of age, voluntarily participated in the defendant’s conduct or consented to it (e.g., applicable in sex crimes).

Would you like to learn how mitigating circumstances might impact your criminal case? Speak with our Charlotte criminal defense attorney to analyze your specific case and identify any potential mitigating circumstances.

Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to discuss mitigating circumstances in your case. Call our lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to evaluate your options or fill out our contact form. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville and Monroe.







The criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC make it their mission to zealously defend their clients on a wide range of criminal matters at both the state and federal levels. These matters may include any charge from traffic offenses; DWI/DUI; drug charges (from simple possession to possession with intent to distribute and trafficking); gun permit denials; weapons offenses; and property crimes (larceny, breaking and entering, robbery, fraud, embezzlement, white collar offenses); to sexually related offenses (indecent exposure; sexual assault, crimes against nature, removal from sex offender registry); and violent crimes (domestic violence; assault; manslaughter; homicide, murder). Other legal issues that Arnold & Smith, PLLC criminal clients may be facing include restraining orders, restraining order and probation violations, expungements; appeals; and immigration issues related to criminal charges. Our criminal defense attorneys are passionate about ensuring that individuals empower themselves by being informed about their constitutional rights, and stand at the ready to fight in the defense of those facing criminal charges.






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