Understanding Aggravating Factors in Arizona Criminal Cases
After a defendant is found guilty at trial, pleads guilty to the court, or pleads guilty via a plea agreement, they will go through the court’s sentencing process, known as “judgement and sentencing.” The penalties associated with a defendant’s sentencing are not necessarily formulaic.
The court has the option to make a sentence more severe based on a defendant’s aggravating factors. All it takes is the presence of one aggravating factor for a court to be able to impose an aggravated sentence onto a defendant.
In cases where aggravating factors are present, mitigating factors, those which show the defendant in a positive light, will be weighed against them in order for the court to impose a sentence.
Aggravated sentences are lengthier than the standard presumptive sentences in criminal cases. Incarceration lengths vary based on the felony class as well as other factors such as these aggravating circumstances.
The aggravating factors that a court can consider during a defendant’s judgement and sentencing are detailed in A.R.S. 13-701. According to this statute, the following aggravating factors can be considered by the court:
- Infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury, except if this circumstance is an essential element of the offense of conviction or has been utilized to enhance the range of punishment under R.S. 13-704 (dangerous offenses).
- Use, threatened use, or possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument during the commission of the crime, except if this circumstance is an essential element of the offense of conviction or has been utilized to enhance the range of punishment under A.R.S. 13-704 (dangerous offenses).
- If the offense involves the taking of or damage to property, the value of the property taken or damaged.
- Presence of an accomplice.
- Especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner in which the offense was committed.
- The defendant committed the offense as consideration for the receipt, or in the expectation of the receipt, of anything of pecuniary value.
- The defendant procured the commission of the offense by payment, or promise of payment, of anything of pecuniary value.
- At the time of the commission of the offense, the defendant was a public servant and the offense involved conduct directly related to the defendant’s office or employment.
- The victim or, if the victim has died as a result of the conduct of the defendant, the victim’s immediate family suffered physical, emotional or financial harm.
- During the course of the commission of the offense, the death of an unborn child at any stage of its development occurred.
- The defendant was previously convicted of a felony within the ten years immediately preceding the date of the offense. A conviction outside the jurisdiction of this state for an offense that if committed in this state would be punishable as a felony is a felony conviction for the purposes of this paragraph.
- The defendant was wearing body armor as defined by Arizona law.
- The victim of the offense is at least sixty-five years of age or is a person with a disability as defined in Arizona law.
- The defendant was appointed pursuant to title 14 as a fiduciary and the offense involved conduct directly related to the defendant’s duties to the victim as fiduciary.
- Evidence that the defendant committed the crime out of malice toward a victim because of the victim’s identity or because of the defendant’s perception of the victim’s identity in a group.
- The defendant was convicted of a violation of negligent homicide, manslaughter, 2nd degree murder, or extreme/super extreme DUI.
- Lying in wait for the victim or ambushing the victim during the commission of any felony.
- The offense was committed in the presence of a child and any of the circumstances exist regarding domestic violence as a dangerous crime against children.
- The offense was committed in retaliation for a victim either reporting criminal activity or being involved in an organization, other than a law enforcement agency, that is established for the purpose of reporting or preventing criminal activity.
- The defendant was impersonating a peace officer.
- The defendant was in violation of 8 United States Code section 1323, 1324, 1325, 1326 or 1328 at the time of the commission of the offense.
- The defendant used a remote stun gun or an authorized remote stun gun in the commission of the offense.
- During or immediately following the commission of the offense, the defendant committed a violation of laws regarding accidents involving death or physical injury, accidents involving damage to a vehicle, or the duty to give information and assistance following such an offense.
- The defendant was convicted of a violation of sex trafficking, trafficking humans for forced labor/service, or child sex trafficking, and the defendant recruited, enticed or obtained the victim from a shelter that is designed to serve runaway youth, foster children, homeless persons or victims of human trafficking, domestic violence or sexual assault.
- The defendant was convicted of aggravated assault and there is evidence that the defendant committed the crime out of malice toward a victim because of the victim’s employment as a peace officer.
- During or immediately following the commission of the offense, the defendant used a mask or other disguise to obscure the defendant’s face to avoid identification.
- Any other factor that the state alleges is relevant to the defendant’s character or background or to the nature or circumstances of the crime.
An experienced defense attorney will be able to help a defendant provide mitigation to weigh against any aggravating factors in order to allow the most favorable sentence for the defendant.
RIDEOUT LAW GROUP
With offices in Lake Havasu City and Scottsdale, our firm serves the entire state of Arizona, with a particular focus on criminal defense, family law, and juvenile cases.
Our goal is for the best outcome for your criminal case, which can include:
- charges that are reduced or dropped.
- top experts reviewing your case.
- aggressive negotiations with the prosecution for plea bargains.
- fines or probation in lieu of jail time.
At Rideout Law Group, our attorneys are able to expertly examine the evidence in your case to provide a strong strategy for argument that leads to an outcome that is most favorable to you. We have experience in all types of criminal cases for both adults and juveniles, with positive outcomes both in plea negotiations as well as jury trial settings.
Call us today for a free consultation at 480-584-3328.