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Definition of Extenuating Circumstances

Extenuating circumstances also called mitigating factors are conditions which lower the culpability of the offender when they commit the crime and may be used to mitigate or lower the punishment. Extenuating factors are generally considered in the penalty or sentencing phase of the trial.

Extenuating circumstances will not excuse or justify the criminal conduct of the accused. Common factors which can be considered "extenuating" can include abuse in childhood, mental issues, a defendant's youth, whether the convicted offender shows remorse, whether the crime was committed in the heat of passion and lack of a prior criminal record.

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