Here are some things you should know about presenting a plea in mitigation during sentencing in Court:
What is a plea in mitigation?
- After you have been found guilty and convicted of an offence, the Court will need to consider what type and amount of sentence to impose against you.
- Before the Court decides on and imposes the sentence, you will be given an opportunity to inform the Court of any mitigating factors which you may have.
- Mitigating factors are facts, circumstances and reasons which you feel would justify a more lenient or less serious sentence being imposed against you. These factors can include information and facts relating to your own personal circumstances as well as those relating to the circumstances surrounding how the offence had been committed or occurred.
- The plea in mitigation (also known as the mitigation plea) is the written or oral presentation to the Court of your mitigation factors.
- This is done by your lawyer or by yourself if you are not legally represented.
- A mitigation plea prepared by a lawyer will be in English. However, an interpreter will be provided to translate your mitigation plea for the Court’s understanding if you are represented by a lawyer and you wish to orally present your mitigation plea in another language.
What does a mitigation plea contain?
- As the purpose of a mitigation plea is to persuade the Court to impose a less severe or more appropriate punishment (in your view) for the offence committed, it should aim to bring the following types of information to the Court’s attention for its consideration:
- Factors relating to your personal circumstances, such as his family background, education and employment track record, medical conditions, evidence that sheds light on his character and attitude as well as information regarding his potential to be rehabilitated and to be reformed from his offending behaviour.
- Factors relating to the manner in which the offence was committed, such as your specific role, the value of property involved, the degree of any injury caused to the victim as well as other circumstances which allow the Court to better understand the context in which the offence took place (e.g. provocation by the victim).
- A mitigation plea should not introduce or rely on information which may contradict the Statement of Facts when you pleaded guilty or the facts and conclusions arrived at by the Judge after a trial.
What happens after the mitigation plea is presented?
- After considering your mitigation plea as well as any arguments made by the Prosecution in relation to the issue of sentencing, the Judge will impose a sentence against you.
- Once a decision on the conviction and sentence has been made by the Judge, either party may generally make an appeal to the High Court in the following situations:
- If you were sentenced after having pleaded guilty and are not satisfied with the Judge’s decision, you may make an appeal to the High Court against the sentence imposed:
- You may make an appeal against sentence if you feel that it was manifestly excessive or not supported by the facts or the law
- The Prosecution may also make an appeal against sentence if it feels that it was manifestly inadequate or not supported by the facts or the law
- You will need to file the formal application for an appeal within 10 days from the date of conviction or sentence.
- The High Court will consider the reasons for any appeal then make a final decision as to whether or not those reasons are of merit and deserving of the appeal being granted.