How Aggravating Factors Can Affect Your IL Sentence
Sometimes after a crime takes place, the perpetrator finds themselves in more serious trouble than they initially expected. Some charges contain what we call aggravating factors – and these factors can significantly worsen the penalties for a crime.
Recently, a man on a Chicago train in the Cermak Road area was stabbed in the face. Police don’t know what motivated the attack yet, but any discovered motivations could be considered aggravating factors in the crime. These could increase the sentencing for a guilty verdict.
Here’s what you need to know about aggravating factors in Illinois and how they could potentially enhance your sentence if found guilty.
What Are Aggravating Factors
Aggravating factors are specific aspects of a crime that can result in harsher penalties under the law. Some aggravating factors under Illinois state statutes include:
- Previous history of criminal activity
- Threatening to cause or causing serious harm to someone else
- Payment for committing the offense, i.e. a hitman
- Victim over age 60
- Victim with a physical disability
- Crime committed based on the victim’s gender, religion, race, color, or sexual orientation
- An offense that occurred in a place of worship, on school grounds, in a nursing home, or at a daycare center
- Crime related to gang activity
- Crime including a dangerous weapon or firearm
- Crime was an abuse of a public office, professional position, or reputation
- Wearing a bulletproof vest while committing the crime
Also, it’s important to note that prosecutors consider how punishment for aggravating factors will deter others in the community from committing similar offenses in the future.
Type of Sentences For Aggravating Factors in IL
If you are found guilty of a crime that includes aggravating factors, the judge can sentence you to penalties within a certain range of the specific crime you committed.
Example punishments include:
Every crime in Illinois falls under either misdemeanor or felony. The specific charges determine how long you can be imprisoned for a guilty verdict. Some crimes, especially those with aggravating factors, have minimum mandatory sentences. Each crime carries a specific penalty for which you may face a minimum term behind bars.
A judge can also order you to pay fines instead of jail time or in addition to it. Fines for misdemeanors are often $2,500 or less, while fines for felonies are usually $25,000 or less – unless the law outlines a higher fine for a specific offense.
Since the prosecution can present aggravating factors in your face, your defense team can counter them with mitigating factors. These help to reduce your punishment if found guilty.
Examples of mitigating factors could be:
- Substantial grounds that justify the conduct for which you’ve been charged
- Another person facilitated or organized the crime
- Unexpected circumstances gave rise your actions
- No previous criminal history on the part of the defendant
- Defendant with a recognized mental disability
You need to understand aggravating factors, sentencing, and your rights if you are charged with a crime. Bring a professional attorney on board to gain clarity on these important matters.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.