During our weekly webinar, I addressed ways people can get longer federal prison sentences. This long list included a “lack of mitigating factors.”

Following the webinar Scott Laney and I got some messages, like:

“wait, do I have enough mitigating factors?”
“what else can I do to show these mitigating factors? I mean, I was not raised in poverty. Will that hurt me?”
“Please tell me more about mitigating factors?”
and scores more…

As a quick recap, mitigating factors are circumstances that might lead to a shorter federal prison sentence. They do not excuse or justify the crime but provide a fuller picture of your life and case. These factors can indeed lead to a shorter federal prison sentence. Here are some commonly considered mitigating factors:

Mitigating Factors Include First Offense:

The court might view this as a mitigating factor if the defendant has no prior criminal record or if this is their first significant offense.

Role in the Offense:

If the defendant played a minor or insignificant role in the crime, it could be considered a mitigating factor.

Mental Illness or Impairment:

If the defendant suffers from a significant mental illness, intellectual disability, or cognitive impairment that may have contributed to the offense, the court may consider this.


A defendant’s willingness to assist in investigating or prosecuting others involved in criminal activity can be a significant mitigating factor.

Acceptance of Responsibility:

If the defendant accepts responsibility for their actions and expresses genuine remorse, this can lessen the prison sentence. To learn how, schedule a call.

Age or Health:

The court may consider the defendant’s age or poor health, mainly if imprisonment would be exceptionally difficult or detrimental to their health.

Personal Circumstances:

Certain personal circumstances like a history of abuse, poverty, lack of education, or opportunities, which could have contributed to the crime, may be considered.

Rehabilitation Efforts:

If the defendant can show that they have made serious efforts towards rehabilitation (e.g., substance abuse treatment, psychological counseling, gaining employment or education), this can influence the court’s decision. Watch this video to learn more.

Victim Advocating on Your Behalf:

In some cases, the victim will ask the court to consider a mitigated sentence.

Good Character:

If the defendant can demonstrate a history of good character through things like community involvement, steady employment, or military service, the court may consider this.

Your case is unique, and your judge will consider the mitigating and aggravating factors presented. This short blog was written to get you thinking about your own mitigation efforts: you must access where you are succeeding and falling behind.


Justin Paperny

P.S. Learn more about Prison Professors Talent!