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Aggravating Factors

Aggravating Factors

If you have been charged with a crime, you are probably concerned about the potential of going to jail and ending up with a criminal record. In examining criminal offenses, judges and prosecutors will probe into the circumstances of the crime to determine what level of punishment is appropriate. 

A factor can be aggravating, mitigating, or neutral. If a factor is aggravating, it can increase the potential punishment if you are convicted. A mitigating factor may decrease potential punishment, while neutral circumstances won’t have any effect. 

What Are Aggravating Factors?

An aggravating factor is a circumstance in a case that can cause harsher punishment by a judge. Aggravating factors are typically things that cause additional harm or put others at risk of harm. 

Equally, a mitigating factor is a circumstance in a case that can cause a lighter punishment by a judge. Mitigating factors are typically things that show a defendant deserves a break from the court. Examples of mitigating factors include being a first-time offender or conduct that did not cause harm to anyone. 

What Are Arizona’s Statutory Aggravating Factors? 

In the state of Arizona, felony sentencing is largely mandatory and set by state sentencing guidelines. In determining what the appropriate sentence will be for a case, a judge will examine all of the relevant facts and circumstances in a case. In Arizona, this includes a list of 27 aggravating factors that are set by state statute

They are as follows:

  1. If the defendant caused an infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury.
  2. If the defendant used or threatened to use a deadly weapon.
  3. If the defendant caused property damage or theft, then the value of the property. 
  4. If the defendant had an accomplice.
  5. If the defendant committed a crime that is especially heinous, cruel, or depraved.
  6. If the defendant committed the crime to be paid.
  7. If the defendant hired someone to commit the crime.
  8. If the defendant was a public servant when the offense happened and the offense directly related to the defendant’s public service role.
  9. If the defendant caused physical, emotional, or financial harm to a victim, or the victim’s family if the victim died from the conduct. 
  10. If the defendant caused an unborn child to die.
  11. If the defendant had committed a felony offense less than ten years before this offense.  
  12. If the defendant was wearing body armor.
  13. If the victim of the offense is at least sixty-five years old, or someone with a disability.
  14. If the defendant harmed a fiduciary.
  15. If the defendant committed a crime of malice towards a victim because of a group the victim belongs to.
  16. If the defendant had a BAC of .15 or higher during the offense.
  17. If the defendant lied in wait or ambushed the victim.
  18. If the defendant committed the crime with a child present.
  19. If the victim was harmed by the defendant for reporting illegal conduct to the police.
  20. If the defendant was impersonating an officer.
  21. If the defendant violated 8 United States Code section 1323, 1324, 1325, 1326, or 1328 during the offense.
  22. If the defendant used a remote stun gun or an authorized remote stun gun during the offense. 
  23. During or immediately after the offense, the defendant violated sections 28-661, 28-662, or 28-663.
  24. If the defendant recruited, enticed, or obtained the victim from a shelter that is designed to serve at-risk individuals (mostly women and children).
  25. If the defendant committed an offense with malice against the victim because of the victim’s employment as a peace officer.
  26. During or right after the defendant committed the offense, the defendant used a mask or other disguise to hide the defendant’s face to avoid being identified.
  27. If the prosecutor has other relevant evidence to prove the defendant’s character, background, nature, or circumstances of the crime, then the court can consider that evidence.

Any combination of these factors can be used to increase prison time for someone who is being sentenced on a felony offense in Arizona. 

Contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer for Help

It is important to gather as much information as you can when you are facing criminal charges. While finding a website such as ours may help you answer some general questions, online research should never take the place of professional legal advice. If you have questions about how aggravating factors can affect your current case, then call a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer for help.

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