Judges are given a fair amount of discretion when it comes to sentencing a criminal defendant. Sentencing guidelines generally provide a range of jail time, fines, and other penalties from which the judge can choose.
The exact sentence that a criminal defendant will receive depends on the specific factual circumstances involved. This is where mitigating factors could prove helpful in pushing for a less severe sentence.
Have you been charged with a DUI or OWI in Indiana? The best way to respond is to prepare the strongest possible legal defense with an Indianapolis DUI lawyer. And that includes consideration of evidence that could lessen the potential consequences of a conviction. Rathburn Law Office is ready to serve you.
What Are Mitigating Factors?
Sometimes referred to as extenuating circumstances, mitigating factors are presented to a court to lessen a criminal defendant’s sentence. In some cases, mitigating factors can result in reduced charges. However, the overall goal is to convince the judge to impose a lighter punishment on the defendant. This includes defendants in DUI cases.
Mitigating factors are generally presented to the court when the defense makes its case. If the defendant is convicted, these factors will then be highlighted during sentencing. They are the opposite of aggravating factors, which are given as reasons for a heavier sentence. The prosecution will present these during its case and at sentencing.
Which Mitigating Factors May Help in an OWI Case?
Indiana’s statutes list a number of mitigating factors that the judge in a criminal case may consider. With respect to a DUI/OWI case, the following could help the defense argue for a less severe penalty.
The driver was only slightly impaired by alcohol.
The defendant will need to present evidence that the BAC of the driver did not exceed .09%. While this range is narrow, you should notify your Indianapolis DUI attorney if your intoxication was mild.
The driver’s behavior at the time of the offense was otherwise lawful and safe.
This argument considers that even though the driver was impaired, his or her conduct was relatively safe. For instance, the fact that the driver did not cause bodily injury or property damage at the time will help.
The defendant’s driving record prior to the DUI/OWI offense was clean.
If this is your first charge of a DUI or OWI, your penalty may be lighter. A judge will consider not only your driving record in Indiana but elsewhere if you’ve lived in another state.
Following the DUI offense, the defendant voluntarily submits to a treatment facility.
If the defendant agrees to attend a mental health, rehabilitation, or similar facility, the judge may impose a lighter sentence. This indicates that the defendant is taking responsibility for his or her actions and trying to prevent them from recurring.
Standing Up for Your Rights After a DUI Charge
These may not be the only factors that a judge will consider. If there are other circumstances that could lessen the severity of the DUI, they should be presented. Be sure to let your Indianapolis OWI attorney know all of the details surrounding your case.
Are you or a loved one facing DUI charges? You can count on the seasoned representation of Rathburn Law Office to defend you. Give us a call today to schedule your consultation.