You may have seen severe punishments for crimes that seem very mild. This is not always a case of just punishing for the crime. It is often that there was some other circumstance.
The courts call these circumstances aggravating factors.
If the crime is a physical one, the use or possession of a deadly weapon can be an aggravating factor. A deadly weapon is not only a knife or a gun. It can be anything that can cause serious injury or death to another person.
The severity of the injuries
It is another aggravating factor when a person severely injures another, whether they intend to or not.
The court may impose a more severe sentence if the victim is particularly vulnerable. Examples of vulnerable victims are:
- The elderly
- The mentally ill
Essentially, it is a crime against someone who cannot defend themselves.
Mandatory minimum sentencing
Sometimes there is a mandatory minimum sentence in place. The courts may decide that the crime falls within the mandatory minimum sentencing laws. This is often the case with drug and violent sentences.
Repeating an offense can force the courts to decide on a more severe penalty. It does not have to be the same crime in this case.
Crimes against a specific population or group are hate crimes. The courts view hate crimes as crimes based on the following:
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
Hate crimes can carry a more severe penalty.
The presence of an aggravating factor can increase the severity of almost any crime.