Legal Blog

SPOLIN LAW WINS APPEAL IN COURT OF APPEAL.

Published on April 22, 2021

Spolin Law achieved justice on another case just a few days ago when the firm’s attorneys successfully overturned a prior court decision denying their client the right to petition for post conviction relief.

In 2012, the client was allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of a local man, described as a child molester. The evidence indicates that if the client was even present, he certainly was not the one to pull the trigger. Nevertheless, the client was convicted of second degree murder (Penal Code 187) later that year and sentenced with an indeterminate term of 20 years to life in prison.

The passing of Senate Bill 1437 (SB 1437) in 2018, however, offered a sliver of hope for the defendant. This piece of legislation amended the “the felony murder rule and the natural and probable consequences doctrine, . . . to ensure that murder liability is not imposed on a person who is not the actual killer, did not act with the intent to kill, or was not a major participant in the underlying felony who acted with reckless indifference to human life.”

In January of the next year, the client filed a petition for re-sentencing under SB 1437. However, his petition was rejected by the Superior Court. In November 2019, the court issued a 28-page written decision explaining its judgement. The lower court asserted that the client failed to satisfy his prima facie burden by failing to provide sufficient evidence to proceed with a hearing.

Defeated one again, the client reached out to the attorneys at Spolin Law. Aaron Spolin and Jeremy Cutcher were the primary attorneys involved in the appeal. In the lengthy Opening Brief and Reply Brief submitted by the firm, the attorneys argued that the court was wrong for deciding that the client failed to make a prima facie case and the court was also wrong for pre-judging the evidence without a hearing.

The California Court of Appeal sided with Spolin Law and the client, determining that the defendant did in fact meet his prima facie burden and that the Superior Court must conduct a hearing. (Please note that prior successful outcomes do not guarantee a similar result on a future case). Mr. Spolin, Mr. Cutcher, and the client himself are all excited for the upcoming hearing and is ready to fight for the justice that the client deserves.

To speak with Mr. Cutcher, Mr. Spolin, or any attorney at Spolin Law about your own case, call us at (866) 716-2805.

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What are Mitigating Circumstances?

Published on April 14, 2021

In criminal law, mitigating circumstances are factors that help to lessen the guilt of an offender and encourage the judge to be more lenient in their sentencing.

What are some examples of mitigating circumstances?

There are two types of criminal mitigation: positive mitigation and negative mitigation.

When using positive mitigation, attorneys try to paint a positive, more holistic picture of the defendant. To do so, they may speak of their devotion to family, hard work, or loyalty. This strategy uses the defendant’s positive traits to show that their illegal actions were completely out of character.

Negative mitigation on the other hand attempts to highlight any hardships or difficult circumstances that may have pushed the defendant to commit the crime. For instance, details about growing up in an abusive household or a history of mental illness are examples of mitigating circumstances that may be used to argue a lesser sentence.

Other common mitigating circumstances include:

  • The defendant having no prior or significant criminal record
  • The defendant playing a minor role in the crime
  • The defendant recognizing the error of their ways
  • The defendant making restitution to the victim of their crime
  • The defendant acting out of necessity
  • The defendant having a difficult personal history
  • The defendant struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction

How can mitigating factors impact the outcome of a case?

When determining a felony or misdemeanor sentence, judges assess these mitigating factors as well as any aggravating circumstances that arise. In contrast to mitigating circumstances, aggravating circumstances increase the defendant’s culpability and encourage heavier punishments. Some examples include a lack of remorse, a leadership role in the crime, or history of criminal behavior.

If a case’s mitigating circumstances outweigh the aggravating circumstances, the judge is likely to be less aggressive in their ruling. Therefore, outlining the mitigating circumstances behind a crime can become a vital tool when facing severe criminal charges, and in some cases could even be the difference between life and death.

Spolin Law P.C.’s success rate is based on our strong desire to win each case we handle. Call us or reach out online to learn how we can handle your  Criminal Appeal.

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