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What factors make a crime aggravated?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

When people hear about crimes, they often come across terms like “aggravated assault” or “aggravated robbery.” However, what exactly does “aggravated” mean in this context?

Aggravating factors are those circumstances that increase the severity or culpability of a crime. These factors play a big role in determining the severity of punishment for people.

Use of weapons

One of the most common aggravating factors is the use of weapons during a crime. Whether it is a firearm, a knife or any other dangerous instrument, the presence of a weapon increases the threat level and the potential harm.

Serious bodily harm

Crimes that result in serious bodily harm may fit the definition of aggravated. This includes injuries that cause long-term impairment, disfigurement or significant pain and suffering. The severity of the harm inflicted is a big determinant in calling a crime aggravated.


Targeting vulnerable individuals such as children, the elderly or people with disabilities can aggravate a crime. Exploiting the vulnerability of a person shows a disregard for their well-being.


Crimes that people plan out ahead of time are usually seen as worse than ones that happen suddenly. Planning shows that the person meant to do it and thought about it before. That makes the crime seem more serious.

Violation of trust

When the person who does the crime is someone the individual trusts, like a teacher or a caregiver, it makes it worse. Breaking someone’s trust makes the crime more serious.

Hate motivation

Attacks motivated by prejudice or hatred towards a particular group based on factors such as race or religion are particularly harmful. Hateful motives make the incident worse and hurt the community more.

There are many nuances to criminal law. By considering all of these factors, legal systems strive to promote the safety and well-being of society.