If you’ve been charged with a crime in Northern Virginia (or anywhere else), you’re probably wondering what you can do to improve your chances of getting a better outcome. One thing we always recommend clients work on is “mitigation evidence.” These are efforts that you take, as a person charged with a crime, that would demonstrate to a Court or prosecutor that you are taking the charge(s) against you seriously.
What is an example of mitigation evidence?
While there’s no rule, we always recommend clients think about the charges against them, what concerns the charges would raise for a prosecutor or judge, efforts they could take to prove they’re taking the charges seriously, and also highlight unique facts about them and their circumstances that help someone understand them as a person.
While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are some things to think about:
- Educational courses (such as anger management if you were charged with an assault, loss prevention if you’re charged with a theft, driver improvement courses for traffic charges, or AA/NA classes if you’re facing a alcohol or drug charge);
- Community service, especially if it in someway relates to the offense charged;
- Donations to non-profits, especially if it in someway relates to the offense charged.
Other efforts can be tailored more specifically to you and your life:
- Letters of support from friends, family members, and colleagues;
- Recent certificates and awards;
- Educational transcripts;
- For non-citizens, a letter from immigration counsel discussing unique immigration consequences you face that a typical citizen wouldn’t endure with a similar charge.
Of course, there are other efforts you can take. You should talk to your attorney to get specific guidance for your circumstances.
But, James, won’t this type of evidence make me look guilty?
The short answer is – no. At Abrenio Law, when we present mitigation evidence to a prosecutor, we are clear that this doesn’t mean that you’re admitting guilty or willing to take a plea. It’s simply evidence that you’re taking your case seriously.
To be clear, you can be absolutely innocent of a charge, and we’d still recommend you attempt to develop mitigation evidence.
Does mitigation evidence guarantee the charges will be dropped against me?
The short answer again is – no. To be clear, taking efforts to develop mitigation evidence isn’t a “smoking gun.” It also doesn’t guarantee an outcome. But what we always tell clients is, if a prosecutor or a judge has to make a “close call,” mitigation evidence may help them get where you want them to be.
And if you end up being convicted of your charge, mitigation evidence will be an important tool to help your attorney plead your case.
Still have questions?
Make sure to reach out to Abrenio Law. We’ve been helping people charged with crimes throughout Northern Virginia for over a decade! We know what you’re facing.