1

Maximize the facts that you have no prior criminal record and that the victim was not seriously harmed

The nature and circumstances of the offense, your role in it, and the harm caused to the victim are strong aggravating factors that can often be mitigated by establishing that you had no prior contact or involvement with the criminal justice system. This removes an aggravating consideration that you did not learn from your first (or other) encounter with the criminal justice system. In addition, the fact that this crime was not committed in an especially cruel or depraved manner, can be highlighted by the minimal harm actually caused by your actions; or, the lack of any physical harm actually caused to the victim. These types of mitigating factors can be used to argue that there is a minimal risk of you re-offending, and therefore a minimal sentence should be imposed. Discuss these issues with your lawyer to determine which can be argued to the greatest effect when you are being sentenced.

2

Emphasize the actions you have taken to address what contributed to the criminal charge

If a particular person; or, you being in a particular place or physical location contributed to you becoming involved with the crime, what have you done (or what can you do) to minimze the impact these contributory factors have on the liklihood of you committing another offense. Frequently, the issue of you being restricted from going back to a specific location, or being involved with a particular person can be raised as a condition of a probationary sentence. This type of factor goes hand-in-glove with the aggravating 'deterence' factors usually argued by the State. Discuss how to counter the aggravating factor arguments the State will use at your sentencing with your lawyer. Discuss with your lawyer if you can successfully argue that there were substantial grounds tending to justify or excuse your conduct; that your actions were the result of circumstances that are not likely to recurr; or, based on your age, that you were influenced by an older codefendant.

3

Propose efforts that can be taken to provide restitution to the victim or assistance to the State

Propose alternatives for you making the victim whole, by paying restitution or replacing items ruined, broken or taken. In essence, the compensation reduces the State's argument that you benefited from the criminal activity, or that the victim continues to be impacted by your actions. In addition, consider what you can offer to the State by way of cooperation with law enforcement against codefendants, or by offfering an early acceptance of responsibility (via a plea) as early in the case as you possibly can. This can be argued by your lawyer as both an acceptance of responsibility, and as a benefit to the State of minimizing the resources that the State needs to commit to prosecuting the case against you. Discuss these ideas with your defense lawyer before your plea, and certainly before you appear before the judge at sentencing. Good luck.