Post by Sam Plusnet
Do US court proceedings allow for a plea in mitigation?
Once a guilty verdict has been given, the defence can offer things like
"He isn't a bad person, but he was badly lead astray by people who he
thought were his friends" etc. etc.
I haven't heard the phrase "plea in mitigation". The judge might take
"mitigating circumstances" into account. What you describe would be
part of a "sentencing hearing" over here, which also includes the victim(s)
or their survivors tell the judge how they deserve justice and closure,
how many lives the criminal has ruined, etc.
Over here, "plea in mitigation" seems almost a term of art. But the
first page of search results on "plea in mitigation" are all UK sites,
plus one Australian. For example:
'The Plea in Mitigation
'No matter how good an advocate you may be, in the majority of
cases your client will be convicted of, or will plead guilty to
something and will have to be sentenced. How do you get him the
lowest possible sentence?
'A bad plea in mitigation can be painful to watch unless you are a
connoisseur of cliché.
"Pleaded guilty at earliest opportunity … deep remorse … can’t
excuse but can explain … moment of madness … reached
cross-roads of his life … suspended sentence will be a salutary
reminder hanging over him … "
'No-one will be persuaded by that sort of nonsense, any more
than by the weird language of the pre-sentence report with its
"dynamic risk indicators" and "criminogenic causality matrices."