Following a criminal defendant’s conviction or guilty plea, a judge decides the appropriate punishment at sentencing. A sentence may include incarceration, probation, fines, restitution, community service and participation in rehabilitation programs. However, there may be instances where a judge is able to enhance or reduce a sentence based upon factors specific to the defendant and the crime committed.
Factors that indicate higher culpability, and may result in a harsher sentence, are known as “aggravating” factors. Examples of aggravating factors are: previous convictions, attempts to conceal or dispose of evidence, use of a weapon, targeting vulnerable victims, etc.