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Former Assistant U.S. Attorney

Aggravating, mitigating circumstances affect capital punishment

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2021 | Uncategorized

Mississippi is one of several states that still imposes capital punishment in certain cases. As you might expect, this type of punishment is reserved for the crimes considered most severe, such as capital murder. However, even if you are facing such a serious allegation, capital punishment may not be the end result for your case. 

Fortunately, you can take steps to defend against such criminal charges in hopes of limiting the consequences you could face. In particular, before capital punishment can be enforced, the court and jury must first review the case and determine whether any aggravating or mitigating circumstances exist. 

The importance of the circumstances 

In order for capital punishment to result from a criminal case in Mississippi, at least one aggravating circumstance relating to the case must exist. Some examples of aggravating circumstances include: 

  • Committing a crime while already in prison 
  • Committing a crime in efforts to avoid arrest or flee from custody 
  • Creating a situation that put numerous people at risk of death 
  • Committing a crime considered particularly cruel, heinous or atrocious 

It is important to note that other aggravating elements could also applyHowever, even if you do have an aggravating element to your case, a mitigating circumstance could weigh more heavily in your case and essentially cancel out the aggravating fact. Some mitigating circumstances include: 

  • Lacking any prior serious criminal activity on your record 
  • Experiencing extreme emotional or mental distress 
  • Acting as an accomplice with minor participation in the capital offense 
  • Lacking the ability to comply with the law 
  • Lacking the ability to understand the criminality of the situation 
  • Having participation or consent from the victim of the alleged crime 

Because your case could hinge on any of these circumstances, aggravating or mitigating, it is crucial to review all the details and understand the gravity of the situation. 

Building a defense 

When capital punishment is a possibility, you do not want to take any chances with your case. As a result, you will undoubtedly want to gain as much information as possible about your criminal defense options and how the exact details of the event could play into your case. A detailed analysis is critical with such serious allegations, so knowing where to seek assistance with your case may prove useful to you.