Aggravating factors are circumstances that increase the severity of a criminal offense. Aggravating circumstances can also enhance sentencing for some criminal convictions. Aggravating factors vary by criminal offense and jurisdiction.
Some common aggravating factors for criminal offenses include:
- Using a weapon to commit a crime
- Causing severe injuries to another person while committing a crime
- Having a criminal history
- Committing a crime involving a vulnerable victim, such as a child, older person, or disabled person
- Having a leadership role in the planning and commission of the crime
Some criminal offenses have specific aggravating factors that can increase the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. In other cases, aggravating circumstances result in a harsher sentence. Below are three examples of how aggravating factors impact three criminal offenses in Dayton, Ohio.
Aggravated Murder Charges in Ohio
Ohio has a specific statute for aggravated murder. Ohio Revised Code §2903.01 lists the factors that elevate murder to aggravated murder charges. Those factors include purposefully causing the unlawful death of:
- Another person or another person’s pregnancy with prior design and calculation
- A person under the age of 13 years old
- A law enforcement officer, first responder, or military member
- Anyone when the person is in prison for a felony or escapes custody
The prosecutor may charge an offender with aggravated murder if they cause a person’s death or the unlawful termination of a person’s pregnancy while committing a crime listed in the statutes. Examples of those crimes include, but are not limited, to kidnapping, burglary, rape, trespass, arson, or terrorism.
Penalties for aggravated murder charges include fines of $25,000, life in prison, and the death penalty.
Aggravated Factors for Driving Under the Influence in Dayton
Ohio Revised Code §4511.19 makes it illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Driving under the influence (DUI) or operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI) can result in several criminal penalties. The penalties for a DUI conviction can include, but are not limited to:
- Jail time or a driver intervention program
- Driver’s license suspension
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)
Aggravating factors enhance the sentence for a DUI conviction. Those factors can include having prior DUI convictions on your record, causing a DUI accident, having a minor in the vehicle, and having a high BAC (blood alcohol content) level.
Some aggravating circumstances can result in a felony DUI charge. Felony UDI charges could result in lengthy prison sentences.
Aggravated Assault Charges in Dayton, OH
Ohio also has a separate code section for aggravated assault. Ohio Revised Code §2903.12 lists the factors that elevate assault charges to aggravated assault. The code states that it is unlawful while under a sudden fit of rage or passion to:
- Cause serious physical harm to another person or another person’s unborn child
- Attempt to cause or cause physical harm to another person or another person’s unborn child by using a deadly weapon or deadly ordnance
Generally, aggravated assault is charged as a fourth-degree felony, but the charges increase to a third-degree felony when the victim is a police officer. The presumptive prison sentence for aggravated assault is 18 months, but a person can serve up to five years if the victim is a police officer.
How Do Aggravating Factors Impact My Criminal Case?
The prosecutor can charge you with a more severe crime if there is a statute that elevates some crimes based on specific circumstances, like the offenses discussed above. As a result, those crimes carry harsher sentences than the corresponding crime without aggravating factors.
In other cases, the prosecutor might use aggravating factors to argue for a harsher sentence. Judges often view aggravating factors unfavorably during sentencing. For example, if you have committed the same offense in the past, the judge might order the maximum sentence for repeat offenses.
Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer if I’m Facing Aggravated Criminal Charges?
When you face any criminal charge, it is always in your best interest to hire a Dayton criminal defense attorney. You could lose your freedom and other rights if convicted.
Aggravated criminal charges result in harsher sentences. Therefore, it is crucial to seek legal advice about your case as soon as possible. If you do not have a lawyer when you appear in court, plead not guilty and contact us as soon as possible.
Our lawyers investigate the criminal charges and analyze the evidence against you. There may be insufficient evidence to prove the aggravating factors. Mitigating factors could help negotiate a plea deal or be used to argue for a lesser sentence.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Dayton Criminal Defense Lawyers
Our lawyers are skilled negotiators and trial lawyers. We use all defense strategies to defend you against criminal charges, including arguing mitigating factors and working to minimize the impact of aggravating factors. Contact our law firm Suhre & Associates, LLC at (937) 531-0435 to schedule your free consultation with an experienced Dayton criminal defense attorney.