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Aggravating and mitigating circumstances are important legal considerations in the sentencing of convicted offenders under modern sentencing laws in the United States. Evidence regarding the two areas is typically presented during a sentencing hearing after the offender has been convicted, and is weighed by the decision maker in deciding on the appropriate disposition. Aggravating circumstances are factors that make an offense seem worse to the evaluator. In contrast, mitigating circumstances are factors that suggest that the offense or the offender should be regarded in a less harsh way by the sentencing authority. These circumstances are relevant concerns in murder cases in which a convicted offender is facing the death sentence. They are also critical considerations in many states that have adopted determinate or presumptive sentencing.

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