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Circumstance In Aggravation CRC 4.421 

McCready Law Group  Aug. 14, 2023

If you’re facing a criminal charge and you’re convicted or plead guilty, the judge can consider both mitigating and aggravating factors in determining your sentence. Mitigating factors are those that might lead to a lesser sentence. Aggravating factors can lead to a harsher sentence. What are these aggravating factors?

Aggravating factors are spelled out in Rule 4.421 of the California Rules of Court. There are 12 factors listed that pertain to the crime at hand, and five factors relating to the defendant. Many crimes, especially felonies, can carry a range of penalties, and it is up to the judge to determine the outcome. Prosecutors will generally argue for the imposition of a higher range of penalties, while the defense will argue for a lower range if the verdict comes back guilty. 

Prosecutors can obviously use Rule 4.421 to argue for a harsher sentence. If you are facing a criminal charge in or around Long Beach, California, contact me at my firm, McCready Law Group, to protect your rights and fight aggressively for the best possible result. Your first consultation is free, and I will listen to the facts of your case and build a solid defense. I also serve clients in Cypress Hill, Lakewood, and other neighboring communities. 

What Is CRC 4.421?

As briefly discussed above, Rule 4.421 of the California Rules of Court spells out aggravating factors that a judge can use in determining a sentence, as most felonies have a range of penalties that can be imposed. There are two parts to CRC 4.421—factors relating to the crime and factors relating to the defendant. 

Some of the factors relating to the crime include: 

  • The use of great violence, infliction of great bodily harm, the threat of great bodily harm, a high degree of cruelty, viciousness, or callousness.

  • Being armed with a weapon or using a weapon while committing the crime.

  • The vulnerability of the victim.

  • Threatening witnesses—the defendant threatens witnesses not to speak or cooperate with prosecutors or the court.

  • The defendant induced others to aid in the crime or was in a position of leadership over others in the crime.

  • The defendant induced a minor to take part in the crime.

  • The defendant was convicted of other crimes for which consecutive sentences could have been imposed but for which concurrent sentences are being imposed.

  • The manner in which the crime was carried out indicates planning, sophistication, or professionalism.

  • The crime involved an attempted or actual taking or damage of great monetary value.

  • The crime constitutes a hate crime.

Some of the factors relating to the defendant that can be considered aggravating include: 

  • The defendant’s violent conduct indicates a danger to society.

  • The defendant’s prior convictions as an adult or sustained petitions in juvenile delinquency are numerous.

  • The defendant has served prior time in county jail or prison.

  • The defendant was on probation, parole, or under mandatory supervision or post-release community supervision when the crime was committed.

  • The defendant's prior performance on probation, mandatory supervision, post-release community supervision, or parole was unsatisfactory.

In addition, California voters approved the Three Strikes Law in 2012. This generally means if you already have one conviction on your criminal record for a serious or violent felony, a second conviction will get your sentence doubled. A third conviction (or strike) means you can face 25 years to life in prison. 

Possible Defenses to Aggravating Factors 

Even though the California Rules of Court spell out aggravating factors that can be used by a judge in determining your sentence, there is still the requirement that these factors be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Witnesses and evidence introduced by the prosecutors can be challenged. Some may even be challenged pre-trial and their use not allowed.  

Dependable Legal Guidance 

If you’re facing a criminal charge in or around Long Beach, California, remember the words of the Miranda Rights warning: “Anything you say can and will be used against you.” Before answering any questions, contact me, and let’s work on a strategy to achieve the best result possible. Reach out to me immediately at my firm, McCready Law Group

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