Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Criminal Defense: Mitigating a sentence by humanizing a client to the Court and Prosecutor

Posted on: August 30, 2007 at 3:50 p.m.

The criminal court system in Los Angeles, California deals with hundreds and hudreds of cases daily. How do criminal defense lawyers humanize a client to busy criminal courts? While this is not the easiest task to accomplish in the Southern California justice system, an L.A. criminal attorney must defend his client by humanizing him to mitigate a possible sentence.

Persuading Los Angeles prosecutors, probation officers and judges to recognize a client's life cannot be defined based solely on the conduct that brought him or her to court is essential to gaining a just outcome. Few persons are accurately defined by the worst thing they ever did, but unless we intervene to demonstrate the contrary, the default of the justice system is to assume that is the way our client is in his or her daily life.

For criminal defense clients, the offense conduct is certainly negative, but the entire picture of the defendant's life may be far more positive and inspirations. Showing that to the court comes with an in-depth investigation, and usually proves to be a major benefit to the outcome of the case. Character letters from employers, family members, social organizations (church, temple, AYSO, wherever client participates) assist the Criminal Defense Blog's clients on daily basis. This is one substantial factor in obtaining probation for clients, instead of state prison.

Tagged as: california criminal laws, vandalism pc 594


Rya Meyers on October 30, 2007 at 12:33 p.m. wrote:

Our justice system is based on the principle that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, yet when a person is introduced in the context of defending him or her self in trial, it is natural human inclination to assume that person is guilty. It

Kyle Reilly on October 27, 2007 at 11:50 p.m. wrote:

Everyone makes mistakes in their lives, and we should have the ability to portray an accurate representation of ourselves before a court. Obviously, when an illegal act is portrayed, we should most certainly suffer the consequences. However, illegal acts are just that, a person at the lowest point in their lives. We all make mistakes, and the court should be able to see information about the suspect outside of the courtroom, in the community. Many people do great things to give back to the community and to help others, and this should most certainly be taken into account. Anyone can make judgments surrounding others based on their actions, but one

Dorilee Meyer on October 22, 2007 at 12:52 a.m. wrote:

An individual's personality is 'constructed' over time. It is being constantly built upon by their experiences, environment, changing neurochemistry, all that they witness and are exposed to. One's behavior at any given moment is selected from the realm of what they know. It is, therefore, extremely relevant to be privy to pertinent details of a person's history and overall character in order to assess their culpability in any given situation. Consider, for example, the tragic instance in which a female alleged victim of domestic abuse murders her abuser. Did friends, family, and co-workers know her to be a gentle, kind, law-abiding citizen, entrapped by an over-bearing, controlling partner? Or did she have a history, even if never prosecuted, of becoming easily enraged, acting out fits of violence, and displaying uncontrollable anger? If that is her character, then perhaps she was the abuser and the man was acting in defense of himself, or it may have always been a mutually abusive relationship that fed on violence. If she was purely a victim who spiraled down a tunnel of hopelessness and despair from enduring physical and psycholgical trauma, even in the case of having killed someone, the court should be merciful. If, however, she has a fundamentally violent, aggressive, and impetuous nature, posturing herself as a victim becomes more suspect. An individual's crime is not an isolated instance, it is a point on a continuum. It is one snapshot of the big moving picture. It is important to take the big picture into account in order for justice to be fully realized.

Bahar Sodaify on October 18, 2007 at 5:55 p.m. wrote:

In order to understand someone's true character one must know their history. If I was a member of the jury I would want to know about the defendant

Kate Monson on October 16, 2007 at 2:47 p.m. wrote:

I too agree with the above comments. First impressions can have a huge impact on how a judge or jury view's a client. I recently was selected for jury duty and must admit that when I first saw the defendant I was skeptical of his innocence. He was wearing jeans and

Erin Zajac on October 12, 2007 at 12:52 p.m. wrote:

I agree. I believe that when a person is facing a sentence they first should make sure that their character and personality is portrayed to the judge and to the jurors. This is the only way to take into account any possible motives for committing the crime that would in fact help their situation. Also, I believe that it is the responsibility of the defense attorney and their client to appear in court as respectful as possible despite their background or typical dress. A courtroom is a place of business, of law, and should be taken seriously. First appearance is one judgment that the defendent can control in some way or another.

Brian Strand on October 11, 2007 at 12:24 a.m. wrote:

If I were a judge and had a man's (or woman's) sentencing at stake, although not directly relevant to the trial at hand, I believe I would want some brief overview of the defendent(s). The only time I will have come into contact with them would be in the courtroom for the accusation they are being charged with. It is true that people should not be defined by their the clothes they wear, their age, or one bad thing they have done wrong. Yes, wearing courtroom-appropriate clothes helps portray yourself in a positive light, but on the other hand, everyone makes mistakes. So I believe that a 'brief comprehensive background' should be presented by the defense to give their client(s) a fighting chance. The prosecution doesn't hesitate in exposing everything bad the defendent has done, therefore the client's counsel should do the same (but in a good way).

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