In New Jersey, depending on the criminal offense you are charged with, you will be subject to a specific range of penalties. For most crimes, there are minimum and mandatory sentences that a judge must enforce based on the seriousness of the criminal offense. However, the circumstances surrounding the crime, also known as aggravating factors, could warrant the court to impose a strict criminal sentence. Generally, judges have some discretion when it comes to the choice of imposing a particular sentence. With that being said, if you have been charged with a crime, you likely feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty involved in the penalties you will be subject to as the court could enforce additional penalties depending on whether any aggravating factors are present. Keep reading to learn what aggravating factors could put you at risk of a harsher sentence and discover how a dedicated Bergen County Criminal Defense Attorney can help protect your rights.
What aggravating factors could impact the severity of my criminal sentence?
Once you have reached the sentencing stage of your criminal trial, the judge will consider many factors to determine a reasonable sentence based on the severity of your criminal offense. As mentioned above, the judge will determine if any aggravating factors are present. If aggravating factors are present, the judge can impose a harsher sentence as the circumstances surrounding the crime increase the level of severity of the penalties. Several aggravating factors can cause a judge to impose a stricter sentence. Aggravating factors that could warrant a stricter criminal sentence include but are not limited to the following:
- Whether you have any prior convictions.
- Whether the crime involved a vulnerable victim.
- Whether the crime was motivated by discriminatory factors (a hate crime).
- Whether the crime involved a dangerous weapon.
- Whether the crime was associated with a gang.
- Whether the crime posed a danger to the general public.
- Whether the crime inflicted significant harm on the victim.
- Whether the crime was committed at a sacred location.
- The specific role you played in committing the crime if more than one party was involved.
Several circumstances surrounding your criminal offense could impact the severity of your criminal sentence. However, some aggravating factors can only influence sentencing for certain crimes. For example, if you were charged with a sex crime and you know you have a sexually transmitted disease such as HIV or HPV, this type of aggravating factor will typically result in a stricter sentence. It is critical to note that there could be several aggravating factors that play a role in the severity of your criminal sentence.
If you have been charged with a felony, it is imperative to retain a skilled Bergen County criminal defense attorney. Our firm is prepared to aggressively fight on your behalf to achieve a more lenient criminal sentence. Allow our firm to offer you individualized legal counseling today!