Understanding Aggravating Factors
Even after defending yourself during a trial, you must still navigate the sentencing process. During this process, attorneys negotiate with the Crown or Court to come to an agreement or sentence. Both mitigating and aggravating factors are considered when preparing a criminal sentence. You may have heard these two terms in courtroom procedures or books; they play a prominent role in the Court.
So, what are aggravating factors?
While negotiating, prosecutors can look at mitigating and aggravating factors that would result in an increased or decreased criminal sentence. A common aggravating factor is when a defendant has a prior record of similar convictions.
Other aggravating factors can relate to the circumstances of the offence, like the severity of injuries to the victim or whether a weapon was used.
How Mitigating Factors Differ
Aggravating factors merit harsher criminal sentences, whereas mitigating factors can result in lighter ones.
A judge may consider mitigating factors, such as:
- No previous criminal record
- A first-time offence
- An offender’s remorse for their crime
- Acting in self-defence
- Having a mental or physical illness
- Playing an insignificant role in the crime
These elements demonstrate that a harsher penalty may not be appropriate, as the offender appears less likely to break the law again in the future.
Examples of Aggravating Factors
As we mentioned above, the court may impose a harsher sentence if the defendant has repeated offences on their criminal record. For example, a repeat offender for the same crime will most likely receive an increased sentence over a first-time offender.
In specific cases, the Court may deem a harsher sentence more appropriate if the victim is found to be vulnerable. A victim’s vulnerability is based on age, such as a violent crime against a child or the elderly. The abuse of a child, spouse, or partner is often considered a key factor when it comes to victim vulnerability and determining aggravating factors. A victim’s vulnerability may also include a mental or physical disability, illness, injury, or incapacitation.
The Offender’s Role
Whether or not the offender played a prominent role in the crime will be considered by the Court. This factor may include the offender playing a leadership role or if they influenced/controlled others to participate in the crime. It may also be deemed an aggravating factor if the offender had developed the scheme.
If the offender was involved in/motivated by a hate crime toward a specific group, it may be considered an aggravating factor. Most hate crimes involve race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The Culpability of an Offence
Intent, negligence, knowledge, and recklessness all play a crucial part in determining the culpability of an offender. If the defendant has deliberately caused harm to a victim or has targeted a specific victim or group, the Court may determine it as an aggravating factor.
Navigating through the defence process alone can be a taxing experience. That’s why you need reliable representation from a Winnipeg criminal attorney. Matt Gould is well-versed in Manitoban law and has the experience necessary to ensure you receive an appropriate outcome.