In Utah, the Sentence and Release Guidelines are used by judges to determine what sentence someone convicted of a crime may receive. These guidelines are published in an appendix in Utah Court Rules Annotated and include mitigating and aggravating factors.
Aggravating factors are things that can make sentencing harsher for those convicted of a crime. These factors might include:
— Whether the alleged victim was vulnerable
— Whether the alleged offender had authority over the alleged victim
— Whether the crime was extremely depraved or cruel
— Whether the alleged victim suffered from serious bodily injury
There are also reasons why the penalty can be more severe. These include:
— The offense occurred in prison.
— The alleged offender is considered a habitual offender.
— A hate crime was committed.
— A child was present when the crime occurred.
— There was a dangerous weapon used or the crime happened near a school.
— Two or more other people helped the alleged offender commit the crime.
There are also circumstances that can help decrease the severity of the punishment. These include an alleged offender who:
— Is considered a good choice for treatment
— Was cooperative with police or other law enforcement officials
— Has development disabilities that affected his or her actions or mental capabilities
As you can see, there are a number of factors that can influence a person’s sentence. Experienced criminal defense attorneys understand the need for the court to consider the mitigating circumstances. Just because there are aggravating circumstances, that does not mean there aren’t mitigating circumstances as well.
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