Difference Between Aggravating & Mitigating Factors

Circumstances That Can Help & Hurt Your Case

Judges evaluate criminal cases to identify various elements that demonstrate the harshness and seriousness of a crime. These factors can affect the outcome of a defendant’s case in a good or bad way. Aggravating and mitigating factors in an alleged crime play a crucial role in determining a person’s penalties, as they can make a defendant’s life better or worse.

Judges consider aggravating and mitigating circumstances and sentence defendants according to the presence of these factors. So, what is the difference between aggravating and mitigating factors? Which one is favorable, and which one is not?

Aggravating circumstances increase the severity and culpability of a crime. According to the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, aggravating factors can include:

  • Previous conviction(s), particularly for serious offenses.
  • Evidence of prior planning.
  • The offense was committed in front of a child.
  • There is a high chance of recidivism.
  • More serious harm was intended than what resulted.
  • The offense was committed as part of an organized criminal group.
  • The offense was motivated by financial or material gain.
  • Attempts to frustrate or impede the administration of justice.
  • The offender committed a crime while subject to pre-trial or sentence conditions.
  • Vulnerable victim(s) were targeted.
  • Weapons were used to frighten or injure victim(s) or persons.
  • Deliberate, repeated or gratuitous violence or other forms of degradation were used.
  • Offenders abused a position of power, authority or trust.
  • There were multiple victims or multiple incidents.

Mitigating factors decrease the severity and culpability of a crime. They can include:

  • The offender lacks a criminal record.
  • The offender:
    • Is of previous good character.
    • Has a mental and/or physical disability
    • Has shown remorse or good conduct following arrest.
    • Committed the offense under duress.
    • Suffered past circumstances that resulted in criminal activity.
    • Is remorseful.
    • Is very young/old.
    • Had a minor role in the offense.

The outcome of your criminal case heavily depends on aggravating and mitigating factors. In sum, aggravating factors can worsen your case while mitigating factors can help it.

A criminal defense lawyer who understands both sides of the law can make a great impact in achieving a favorable outcome. Thus, you should rely on The Clark Law Firm to represent you, as our founding attorney was a former prosecutor who leverages his invaluable experience to strengthen each case he handles.

When you contact (817) 435-4970 to schedule a free consultation, you will quickly learn why The Clark Law Firm is best for you. We look forward to connecting with you!


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