Aggravated Crimes Versus Aggravating Circumstances in Florida Criminal Cases
Though the two words may seem similar in everyday usage, aggravated and aggravating have very different meanings under Florida criminal laws. There is a lot of confusion over aggravated crimes and aggravating circumstances, and for good reason: These concepts are extremely complex if you do not have a legal background. You can rely on a knowledgeable Florida criminal defense lawyer to provide specific information, but some answer to common questions about these terms may be helpful.
What is an aggravated crime? In general, any offense becomes an aggravated crime if you use a deadly weapon in connection with committing it. There are distinctions among different forms of aggravated crime, however. For instance:
- An offense becomes aggravated assault if the person assaults another with a deadly weapon OR has the intent to commit a felony;
- You could be arrested for aggravated battery if the battery causes great bodily harm, you use a deadly weapon, or you attacked a pregnant woman; and,
- Charges for aggravated robbery may apply if you use a deadly weapon while committing the crime or you inflict severe bodily harm on a victim, even without a weapon.
What qualifies as a deadly weapon? The definition is quite broad, so a deadly weapon could be a device other than a firearm or knife. In Florida, defendants have been convicted for aggravated crimes for hitting someone over the head with a beer bottle, driving a car at a victim, making menacing gestures with a baseball bat, and similar weapons.
How do aggravating circumstances affect a Florida criminal case? Some factors affect sentencing or severity, but are entirely separate from the offense itself being an “aggravated” crime. Though they are very case-specific, aggravating circumstances may include:
- Your criminal history, especially with violent crime convictions;
- The planning or premeditation of the crime;
- Any indications that you lack remorse for committing the crime;
- The statute of the victim, such as young or old age; and,
- Many other circumstances.
When a prosecutor adds aggravating circumstances to the allegations against you, the penalties will also be more severe. Your imprisonment time could be longer, your fine could increase, and/or your probation may come with stricter terms.
Can I benefit from mitigating circumstances? Yes, just as there are aggravating factors that can increase the nature of the charges, mitigating circumstances could work in the opposite way. Examples include:
- After you committed a crime, you went straight to police and turned yourself in;
- Though you had a firearm in your possession, it was not loaded;
- You played a minor role in a crime involving a group of individuals; or,
- The victim incited the crime or was otherwise blameworthy in motivating your conduct.
A Knowledgeable Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Answer Additional Questions
You probably have many other questions if you were arrested for an aggravated crime or aggravating circumstances apply in your case. To learn more about how to fight the charges, please contact Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney Kevin J. Kulik. Our legal team can schedule a confidential consultation to review your case.