What does it mean when a crime is "aggravated"?
If you are charged with an “aggravated” crime, you could be facing some serious consequences. “Aggravated” means made more serious by attendant circumstances. The penalty range may be more than you have bargained for based upon some factor, whether it's the victim's age or race, where or when the crime happened, or some circumstance unique to you.
Many crimes have the potential to be charged as “aggravated” based on the nature of the crime. Police officers and prosecutors have discretion when it comes to charging someone with an “aggravated” offense. Typically, the penalties for a crime that has been enhanced to an aggravated status are increased. This is true for crimes like aggravated battery, aggravated driving under the influence, aggravated robbery, and countless others.
When a criminal charge is enhanced to an “aggravated” status, the prosecutor must specify which fact or element rises to the level of aggravation under the law. Further, the prosecutor will have to prove the aggravation beyond a reasonable doubt.
For example, a fight at a backyard BBQ may be charged as a misdemeanor battery, while a fight at a park district may be charged as a felony, aggravated battery. In this example, the aggravation is where the offense occurred, private property versus public property. Some common forms of aggravation include the following: the use of a weapon in the commission of a crime, the age of the victim, a prior violation for the same offense, and the employment status of a victim, among many others. Was the victim a nurse, EMT or police officer?
A skilled attorney knows these aggravating factors and circumstances and will how to help protect you in court. It is crucial you contact an attorney before going to court or speaking to police. Contacting a knowledgeable Wheaton attorney at Lafata Law will help to navigate the complexity that is aggravation. With more than one hundred criminal trials and thousands of negotiated pleas, Lafata Law will put you in the best position when charged with a crime enhanced by some form of aggravation.