A Houston Sex Crimes Lawyer Explains Aggravating and Mitigating FactorsPublished: May 08, 2019 in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes
Aggravating and mitigating factors can have a big impact on the outcome of your sex crimes case. These are facts of the case that make your criminal liability more or less serious, respectively. Assuming that you are found guilty of wrongdoing, these factors could encourage the judge to hand down either a harsh or lenient sentence. For example, your Houston sex crimes lawyer could present evidence that you have taken responsibility for your actions, apologized to the victims, and sought to rehabilitate yourself. These mitigating factors could persuade the judge to give you a lighter sentence.
At The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we fight for good results for our clients by highlighting the mitigating factors that apply to their case. When it comes to sex crimes cases, prosecutors will do everything they can to put you behind bars. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen. If you’ve been charged with a sex crime, contact us today at (713) 222-6767 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.
Why are Mitigating and Aggravating Factors Important?
In a criminal case, the prosecutor needs to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are being charged with indecent exposure, for example, the prosecutor must present evidence to prove all of the following elements:
- You exposed your private parts
- You did so with the intent to arouse or gratify your sexual desires (or those of another person)
- You were reckless about whether another person could see you and be offended or alarmed by your conduct
You will be convicted of the crime if the prosecutor’s evidence shows that it is almost certain that all of the above is true. Alternatively, you may be convicted if you plead guilty to the offense, which is how most cases are settled. Although mitigating and aggravating factors sometimes come into play when proving or disproving the elements of the crime at trial or during plea agreement negotiations, these factors are most important at the final stage of the criminal process, which is your sentencing hearing.
At your sentencing hearing, the judge will hear evidence from both sides about how harshly you should be punished. The prosecutor will present evidence of aggravating factors to encourage the judge to punish you to the fullest extent of the law. In the context of a public indecency case, examples of aggravating factors might include evidence of any of the following:
- Previous convictions for criminal offenses
- Lack of remorse for your actions
- The age of the people who saw you
- The place where the offense occurred, such as a park or near a school
On the other hand, your defense team would present evidence of mitigating factors to the judge, which might include:
- You have no criminal record
- You apologized to the victims
- If you were intoxicated when you committed the offense, you are seeking treatment for substance abuse
- Mental disorders or past trauma can partly explain your behavior
- You are seeking counseling for your disorders or unhealthy sexual behavior
- You make contributions to the community and have good moral character
The judge would then weigh these factors and determine how to punish you. Public indecency is a class B misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail and $2,000 in fines. If your defense team successfully leverages the mitigating factors in your case and minimizes the aggravating factors, you could potentially receive a sentence for time served, no fines, and some community service. In this case, the worst punishment would be the fact of having a conviction for a sex offense on your criminal record, and the effect that it would have on your life.
Fight Back Against Your Sex Crimes Accusations Today
Ideally, the outcome of your case will not turn on mitigating and aggravating factors. The better outcome would be for your attorney to successfully counter the prosecutor’s evidence that goes to the elements of the crime itself, in which case you may be acquitted. This is why it’s essential that you not plead guilty to your sex crimes charges before consulting with an experienced Houston sex crimes lawyer, who might be able to find one or several strategies for defending your case. For a free consultation about your options, call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett today at (713) 222-6767, or reach out through the online form.