Mitigating Circumstance Law and Legal Definition

A mitigating circumstance is a circumstance that may be considered by a court in determining culpability of a defendant or the extent of damages to be awarded to a plaintiff. Mitigating circumstances does not constitute a justification or excuse for an offense but may reduce the severity of a charge. This is especially used in death penalty considerations and juries may be instructed to consider such circumstances like the defendant's youth, mental capacity, or childhood abuse so that they may reach a reasoned decision.