Mitigating Factors Assessment
Dr. Kristina Vincent at ForenPsych Consulting and Assessment Services L.L.C. offers psychological assessment of mitigating factors prior to a defendant entering a plea or prior to sentencing. Call us today at for a Free Consultation and more information about any of our Forensic Psychological Evaluations.
Even in situations where the defendant’s mental disorder does not meet the criteria for a not guilty by reason of insanity defense, the defendant’s state of mind at the time, as well as relevant history of mental disorder and psychological abuse can be used to attempt a mitigation of sentence. Dr. Vincent’s evaluation and report is an important element in presenting evidence for sentence mitigation. A mitigating factors psychological evaluation can be quite helpful in plea negotiation and assists the defense attorney and the court to be able to understand factors that affected the defendant’s judgment, perception, or intent in committing the offense. The evaluation will often include some form of a risk assessment and may have treatment recommendations of how treatment and what type of treatment may reduce the likelihood of recidivism.
In Mitigating Factors at Sentencing cases, a defense attorney will ask for an assessment of his or her client's personal history and determine whether congenital, intellectual, educational, socioeconomic, or developmental injuries or deprivations have predisposed the defendant to commit a crime or could reduce their culpability. These findings may then be offered to the court in an effort to reduce the severity of the sentence imposed on the defendant. "Mitigating factors" refer to information about a defendant or the circumstances of a crime that might tend to lessen the sentence or the crime with which the person is charged. "Aggravating factors", refer to information about the defendant of the crime that may make the crime worse than similar crimes. Although such evaluations are typically conducted at the request of the defense, prosecutors may also obtain their own evaluator to gain an independent assessment or to challenge the findings of the defense expert.
Although each case is unique and may require additional testing or evaluation, most evaluations may include the following:
Review of official records related to the specific offense (e.g., police records, witness statements)
Review of background records and history (e.g., academic records, psychiatric/ psychological treatment records)
Relevant background information
Clinical interview of defendant
Collateral interviews, as necessary
Psychological evaluation of malingering
Assessment of defendant's state of mind close in time, leading up to, and during the offense based on interview with defendant and collateral information
Future risk assessment
Summary of relevant mitigating and/or aggravating factors