Arizona’s Aggravating Circumstances Law: Part 1

Arizona has 26 aggravating circumstances that a trier of fact shall determine and the court shall consider when sentencing a person convicted of a felony according to A.R.S. § 13-701(D). Every circumstance except circumstance 26 is a fact about the defendant’s criminal history, the defendant’s conduct, the victim, or the felony. Circumstance 26 is a catch-all for the prosecutor to use if the other aggravating circumstances don’t apply. This blog post will discuss aggravating circumstances that are facts about a defendant’s criminal history and conduct.

Aggravating circumstances that are facts about a defendant’s criminal history are:

  • The court determines that the defendant was previously convicted of a felony within the ten years immediately preceding the date of the offense. (aggravating circumstance (11).
  • The defendant was convicted of negligent homicide, manslaughter, second degree murder or aggravated assault arising from an act that was committed while driving a motor vehicle and the defendant’s alcohol concentration at the time of committing the offense was 0.15 or more. (aggravating circumstance (16)).
  • The defendant was convicted of one or more of the following federal crimes: unlawfully bringing aliens into the U.S., bringing in and harboring certain aliens, improperly entering the U.S. as an alien, reentering the U.S. as an alien, or importing an alien for an illegal purpose at the time of the commission of the offense. (aggravating circumstance (21))
  • During or immediately following the commission of the offense, the defendant left the scene of a car accident involving death, physical injuries or vehicle damage, or did not give information and assistance following a car accident during or immediately following the commission of the offense. (aggravating circumstance (23)) ‘
  • The defendant was convicted of sex trafficking or trafficking of persons for forced labor or services or child sex trafficking and the defendant recruited, enticed or obtained the victim from a shelter that is designed to serve runaway youth, foster children, homeless persons or victims of human trafficking, domestic violence or sexual assault. (aggravating circumstance (24)).
  • The defendant was convicted of aggravated assault and there is evidence that the defendant committed the crime out of malice toward a victim because of the victim’s employment as a peace officer. (aggravating circumstance (25)).

Aggravating circumstances that are facts about a person’s conduct are:

  • Infliction or threatened infliction of serious physical injury, except if this circumstance is an essential element of the offense of conviction or has been utilized to enhance the range of punishment. (aggravating circumstance (1)).
  • Use, threatened use or possession of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument during the commission of the crime, except if this circumstance is an essential element of the offense of conviction or has been utilized to enhance the range of punishment. (aggravating circumstance (2)).
  • At the time of the commission of the offense, the defendant was a public servant and the offense involved conduct directly related to the defendant’s office or employment. (aggravating circumstance (8)).
  • The defendant was a personal representative, guardian, conservator, or trustee under Title 14 and the offense involved conduct directly related to the defendant’s duties to the victim as fiduciary. (aggravating circumstance (14)).
  • Lying in wait for the victim or ambushing the victim during the commission of any felony. (aggravating circumstance (17)).

The prosecutor will try to come up with as many aggravating circumstances as possible if you are charged with a felony. Don’t try to fight this battle on your own. You need an experienced defense attorney to fight for you. Attorney Gary Rohlwing has over three decades of experience. Call him today for a free consultation.

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