What Are Aggravating Factors in Illinois Crimes?

Posted on in Criminal Law

arlington heights criminal defense lawyerIn Illinois, once you have plead guilty to or been convicted of a crime, the case moves into the sentencing phase. During the sentencing phase, the prosecution will have the opportunity to present what are called “aggravating factors.” Aggravating factors are circumstances that make the crime more serious and may cause a judge to issue a harsher sentence. If you are facing the possibility of a felony or misdemeanor conviction where aggravating factors may be present, you will need an experienced attorney to give you the best chance at avoiding harsh sentencing. 

Examples of Aggravating Factors 

For each criminal charge, there are factors that are not needed to secure a conviction but do make the courts consider a given crime more serious. The more aggravating factors that are present, the harsher a sentence the judge may issue. Some common aggravating factors include: 

  • Vulnerable Victim - Crimes against a victim who was particularly vulnerable are considered especially serious in Illinois. Vulnerable victims include elderly people, disabled individuals, or children

  • Criminal History - If this is not your first offense, the court may take it more seriously and impose a harsher sentence. The idea is to punish those who fall into a pattern of criminal activity, such as habitual drug dealers. 

  • Hate Crime - If your crime was motivated by religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability status, Illinois treats the offense incredibly seriously. 

  • Serious Harm - If the victim was seriously harmed or threatened with serious harm, sentencing could be harsher. 

  • Organized Crime or Hired Crime - Crimes that took place as part of gang or other organized crime activity, as well as crimes for which the defendant was paid (such as murder-for-hire) can be considered aggravated. 

  • Abuse of Power - Those who hold public office or a trusted professional position, and then abuse that position to commit a crime may receive harsher sentences, as this abuse is an aggravating factor. 

  • Firearm - Use or possession of a firearm in committing an offense aggravated the offense. 

Fortunately, your defense attorney will also have the opportunity to present mitigating factors. The opposite of aggravating factors, mitigating factors are circumstances that make the crime less serious than the charge suggests. 

Call a Lake County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges in Illinois, you should contact an Arlington Heights felony and misdemeanor criminal defense lawyer. If aggravating factors may be present in your case, you will need an experienced defense attorney to protect your legal rights and fight to bring about a good outcome to your case. Call Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law at 847-253-3400 to schedule a free consultation.