If you are facing criminal charges, you undoubtedly have some worries about the consequences of a potential conviction. While you probably have some options for defending yourself, you may also want to begin thinking about mitigating factors that may encourage a judge or jury to impose a lenient sentence.
Mitigating factors are facts or details that lessen either the severity of the crime or your responsibility for committing it. If you have a history of mental illness, your psychological and emotional health at the time of the offense may be meaningful mitigators.
Mental health issues as mitigating factors
The human psyche is incredibly complex, with psychologists and biologists still uncovering new details about the brain. Nowadays, most mental health professionals realize mental illness can and does change the way a person behaves. This is likely true for a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, learning disabilities and others.
Your history of mental illness
A skilled criminal defense attorney can tell your complicated mental health story in a way judges and juries can understand. Therefore, if you have a history of mental illness, it is advisable to discuss your mental health with your attorney.
On the other hand, because many individuals never seek diagnosis or treatment for mental health issues, you may not realize you have a history of mental illness. Your attorney may ask you to meet with a psychologist or another mental health professional to determine whether mental illness may have played some role in your commission of the crime.
If a mental illness has changed the way your brain works, you should not have to serve the same sentence as someone without mental health issues. Ultimately, letting a judge or jury look inside your psyche may result in a less harsh sentence.