In criminal law, a mitigating factor, also known as an extenuating circumstance, is any information or evidence presented to the court regarding the defendant or the circumstances of the crime that might result in reduced charges or a lesser sentence. Unlike a legal defense, the presentation of mitigating factors will not result in the acquittal of a defendant. The opposite of a mitigating factor is an aggravating factor.
The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)