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What Makes a Crime “Aggravated”?

Posted on in Criminal Law Blog

IL defense lawyerMany crimes in Illinois have their ‘aggravated’ counterparts, from assault to sexual abuse. However, there is routine confusion about what exactly makes a crime aggravated, and how it affects sentencing. If you have been charged with a crime, understanding the nature of such a charge can help you determine how best to attack the problem and ensure your side of the story is heard.

Definitions Vary

When one examines an individual crime, the circumstances that make it aggravated will obviously depend on the cause of action. For example, in Illinois, a domestic violence charge becomes aggravated if the behavior in question encompasses criminal acts against a minor, any kind of sexual abuse, or great bodily harm against any victim, but drug crimes become aggravated if drugs are made or transported to certain buildings. Yet the general definition of aggravation in such a context is any circumstance or factor that makes a crime more injurious but is not a step that is part of the offense itself.

For example, with a domestic violence scenario, the offense is held to have been committed when someone either threatens or commits violence (be it verbal, physical or sexual) against another person in one of the relationships listed in the statute. If the threats or violence are committed against a minor, it is an aggravating factor, because it is not necessary to have the crime (that is, threats against a minor are not a component of a domestic violence charge), but it makes the potential after-effects of the crime worse.

What Does This Mean for Me?

If you are charged with a crime and it is ‘aggravated,’ it generally means that a sentence upon conviction will be much stricter. A conviction for battery, for example, is a misdemeanor, carrying up to 1 year in the county jail and a fine of up to $2,500. An aggravated battery conviction is a felony, carrying a sentence of up to 5 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The presence of an aggravating factor is said to warrant the longer sentence because the aggravating factor is not a necessary component of the offense - it is simply something the offender did to make their crime more severe.

For some crimes, a conviction for the aggravated version of the offense will also mean that any kind of good-conduct-time or probation will be off the proverbial table. No breaks are given for those convicted of serious enough offenses; with some exceptions, the entire sentence is expected to be served. Because of this, some people may choose to plead to a lesser charge, to ensure that they remain eligible for probation and the like.

Call Our DuPage County Criminal Attorneys

Regardless of the charges facing you, it is important to ensure that you understand the potential ramifications. Having an experienced attorney on your side can be a great help. Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. has dedicated DuPage County criminal defense lawyers who will work with you and try to help guide you through what can be a frightening and confusing process. Contact our offices today to set up an appointment.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000600HArt%2E+I&ActID=2100&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=100000&SeqEnd=500000

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K12-3.05

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