Five Common Factors That Could Affect the Severity of Your Criminal Charges
When you are charged with a crime, it can be an extremely scary experience. There is much uncertainty when you are involved with the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to how you are sentenced. Each crime is classified as to its seriousness, with the classification dictating what the sentencing guidelines are. However, there are certain circumstances in which those guidelines can be circumvented. This typically occurs when it is determined that there were aggravating factors present when the crime was committed.Common Aggravating Factors
After you are convicted for a crime or you plead guilty, a hearing will then be scheduled for your sentencing. It is not until this hearing that you will know what your future holds as far as the consequences of the crime. The judge can impose the sentence that he or she sees fit for the crime that was committed. When certain aggravating factors are present, the judge has the option to impose stricter sentencing for the particular crime. There are a number of factors that could increase the severity of your punishment, but the most common factors include:
- Previous Criminal History: One of the biggest factors in determining a person’s sentence is whether or not they have a previous history of arrests, convictions, or other criminal activity. Typically, if a person has an extensive criminal history and they commit another crime, they will receive a harsher sentence than someone who committed the same crime but did not have a criminal history.
- The Presence or Threat of Serious Harm: If the person was found guilty or pled guilty to a crime that involved serious harm or the threat of serious harm to another person, the judge may decide to impose a more serious sentence or a sentence with more stipulations.
- The Crime Was Motivated by the Victim’s Sex, Religion, Race, Color, Ethnicity, or Sexual Orientation: Judges do not take kindly to hate crimes. Hate crimes occur when a person is motivated to commit a crime because of the victim’s status, such as their sexual orientation or place of origin. Hate crimes are often crimes such as assault or battery, which are often charged as aggravated crimes.
- The Victim Was a Police Officer, Elderly, or Disabled: The status of the victim can also increase the severity of a criminal sentence. For example, a person who commits crimes against a person with a disability or a child can expect to receive a harsher sentence.
- The Crime Took Place at a Church, School, or Nursing Home: Your sentence can also be increased if you were found guilty of committing a crime in certain protected locations. These locations can include churches, schools, nursing homes, daycares, and even governmental property.
In some criminal cases, the best outcome you can hope for is a lenient sentence. While the goal of the team at the Law Office of John S. Fotopoulos, P.C. is to try to avoid a conviction at all costs, our skilled Tinley Park, IL, criminal defense lawyers will also fight to get you the most favorable sentence possible when there are no other options. Call us today at 708-942-8400 to schedule a free consultation.