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When a person has been convicted in a criminal case, they will go through a sentencing process. During the hearing, the judge will decide what sanctions to impose on the individual. Their decision may be based on the facts of the case, as well as aggravating or mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are those that increase the severity of the crime, and thereby may increase the severity of the sentence.

Aggravating Factors

During a sentencing hearing, the prosecutor and defense have an opportunity to present arguments to the judge regarding the type of sanctions that should be imposed. Generally, the prosecutor will point to aggravating factors that suggest that, for instance, the prison term should be longer or the fine should be higher.

Again, aggravating factors are those that suggest the offense was more severe. For example, if the defendant had a deadly weapon on them at the time of the alleged crime, that would be considered an aggravating factor.

Other aggravating factors could include things such as:

  • The defendant having had previous convictions
  • The conduct resulted in serious harm
  • A certain group of people was targeted
  • The offender was in a position of power

Aggravating factors may be presented at trial or during a sentencing hearing. Others may be written into the statute. For instance, in Florida, a person commits battery when they intentionally make physical contact with another against their will or intentionally cause physical harm. In this case, the offense is a first-degree misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and up to $1,000 in fines.

The offense becomes aggravated battery when the alleged offender:

  • Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement;
  • Uses a deadly weapon; or
  • Commits the offense against a victim they knew or should have known was pregnant

Because the circumstances involving aggravated battery are more severe than simple battery, the level of charge increases, as do the potential conviction penalties. This offense is a second-degree felony, and carries with it up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.

Mitigating Factors

We mentioned the term "mitigating factors" at the beginning of this blog, and will expand more on the concept here. Mitigating factors could be considered the opposite of aggravating. The defense will present mitigating factors, those that show the defendant in a favorable light, to argue for lesser punishments in a criminal case.

Unlike aggravating factors, the types of mitigating factors that could lessen the severity of penalties aren't always included in criminal statutes.

A few examples of mitigating factors include:

  • Minor role in the offense
  • Lack of criminal record
  • Remorse
  • Drug addiction
  • Difficult personal history

If you've been charged with a crime in Miami, our attorney at Law Office of Armando J. Hernandez, P.A. will thoroughly review your circumstances to build a compelling legal strategy on your behalf. Schedule your free consultation by calling us at (305) 400-0074 or contacting us online.

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