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What makes a crime aggravated?

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2023 | Criminal Law |

According to Statista, there were over 1.3 million cases of violent crime in the United States in 2020.

This number includes aggravated crimes. What constitutes an aggravated crime?

Aggravated crimes

Aggravated crimes are offenses that involve circumstances or elements that intensify their seriousness. These factors increase the level of harm, danger or culpability associated with the crime. While standard offenses can result in penalties like fines or probation, aggravated crimes often lead to harsher consequences, such as longer prison sentences.

Use of weapons

One of the most common factors that escalate a crime is the use of a weapon. This includes firearms, knives or any object used with the intent to cause harm. For instance, a simple assault may turn into an aggravated assault if the perpetrator uses a weapon.

Degree of harm inflicted

The extent of harm inflicted upon the victim also plays a role. Severe injuries, permanent damage or potential threat to life can elevate an offense.

Victim characteristics

The characteristics of the victim can also lead to the law classifying a crime as aggravated. Crimes committed against vulnerable individuals, such as children, the elderly or disabled persons, are often treated with increased severity.

Location of the crime

Where a crime takes place can be a determining factor. For example, trespassing might be a minor offense, but trespassing in a restricted government facility or a school could escalate the charge.

Motivation or intent

The motive behind a crime is another determining factor. Crimes committed with malicious intent, hate crimes or those driven by prejudice are often considered more severe.

Implications of aggravated crimes

The severity of an aggravated crime has far-reaching consequences for both the offender and society. Lengthier prison sentences can lead to increased prison populations, impacting prison resources and the overall criminal justice system. Additionally, the victims of aggravated crimes may face more significant physical, emotional and financial burdens.

Understanding what makes a crime aggravated is important in order to comprehend the implications and severity associated with these offenses.