If you have ever heard the term aggravated assault or aggravated battery and wondered what the word  “aggravated” means in these circumstances, this is the blog for you. 

Aggravating factors are often defined as any circumstances or facts of a case that increase the severity of the crime. With the increase in the severity of the crime due to these factors, the penalty is also increased. 

Let’s examine what aggravating factors may include as well as an example that will help you understand the manner in which the consequences of the crime will change. 

hand holding knife with a black background

What Are Common Aggravating Factors? 

Prosecutors may use aggravating factors to ask for a harsher sentence during the penalty phase of a court case. Criminal statutes in each state identify specific factors that should result in harsher punishments. 

These include: 

  • Use of a deadly weapon such as a gun, knife, or everyday item used in a deadly way such as a car, tools, or a broken bottle. 
  • The level of injury to a victim. Death is the highest level of aggravating factor in terms of injury to a victim.
  • The involvement of a minor or an elderly person. 
  • The vulnerability of a victim such as someone with a mental or cognitive illness. 
  • The lack of remorse of the defendant. 
  • The defendant committed the offense while on probation, on parole, or during escape. 
  • The defendant has committed repeated offenses against the same victim. 
  • The defendant used position or status to facilitate the commission of the offense, such as a position of trust, confidence or fiduciary relationship.
  • The defendant was a leader in the commission of an offense involving two or more criminal actors.
  • The crime includes a hate crime status. 

An example of how a crime may meet the aggravated status could be a robbery or assault that also included a weapon or was committed against a person who was young or old or mentally impaired. 


Sentencing In Aggravating Circumstances 

During the penalty phase of a court case, the jury or judge must determine the appropriate sentencing of a criminal found guilty of an offense. Sentencing in a case where there were aggravating factors or circumstances (listed above) will find that their penalty will be harsher. Each state and jurisdiction has a guideline on sentencing according to the terms and conditions. 

Discuss what the aggravating circumstances are in your case with your legal counsel and they will help you understand the sentencing guidelines. For more information or to discuss your legal situation contact us at the Law Offices of Patrick Conway in Salem, Massachusetts.