Definition - What does Attenuate mean?

To attenuate is to lessen the severity of something. In the context of the law, there are several applications for this term. First, a particular defendant may have "attenuating circumstances" associated with the crime that he or she committed. This could mean that the circumstances under which the defendant committed the crime may cause a reduced sentence. Attenuation can also refer to evidence being declared admissible, which would otherwise be dismissed due to being obtained illegally. There are certain instances that can allow for such evidence to be attenuated.

Justipedia explains Attenuate

Sometimes, crimes are committed under circumstances that can justify or partially justify them. For example, if a man hits another man who was threatening or harassing his wife, this may be an “attenuating circumstance.” In such a case, the jury or judge may reduce the sentences associated with the battery charge because the situation may partially justify the man's actions. Whether or not circumstances are attenuating is for the judge and/or jury to decide while they hear the trial.

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