Both the federal government and most states refer to sentencing guidelines when determining the appropriate sentence for a defendant who has been convicted of a criminal offense. Sometimes, however, the court will order a significantly increased sentence if the court feels that a sentence “enhancement” is justified. Understanding what factors could lead to an enhanced sentence is important if you have been charged with a crime. Toward that end, a Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains why your sentence for a crime might be enhanced in Tennessee.
Factors a Court May Use to Enhance a Sentence in Tennessee
Tennessee Code Section 40-35-114 sets forth the factors that a court shall consider when deciding if a sentence enhancement is warranted. While the governing statute is worded such that the court is required to consider these factors, the court is not required to use any of them to enhance a sentence. Some of the most commonly used enhancement factors include:
- The defendant has a previous history of criminal convictions or criminal behavior.
- The defendant was a leader in the commission of an offense involving two (2) or more criminal actors.
- The offense involved more than one victim.
- The victim was a “vulnerable” victim (child, elderly, mentally ill, incapacitated)
- Exceptional cruelty
- Significant injury to a person or damage to property
- Use of a firearm
- Failure to comply with pre-trial release conditions.
- The crime was a felony that resulted in death or serious bodily injury.
- The defendant had no hesitation about committing a crime when the risk to human life was high.
- Intentional infliction of serious bodily injury.
- At the time the felony was committed, one of the following classifications was applicable to the defendant:
- Released on bail or pretrial release, if the defendant is ultimately convicted of the prior misdemeanor or felony.
- Released on parole.
- Released on probation.
- On work release.
- On community corrections.
- On any other type of judicial release.
- Escaped or currently incarcerated at the time of the commission of this crime.
- The defendant abused a position of public or private trust, or used a professional license in a manner that significantly facilitated the commission or the fulfillment of the offense.
- The defendant committed the offense on the grounds or facilities of a pre-kindergarten (pre-K) through grade 12 school when minors were present.
- It was a hate crime (based on the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or gender of the victim).
- The offense was an act of terrorism or was related to an act of terrorism.
- Aggravated assault and the victim was a law enforcement officer or similar victim.
- The use of a controlled substance in a sexual crime.
- Arson or vandalism in a place of worship.
- Rape if the defendant knew he/she was HIV positive.
- The sale of drugs to a minor.
Because every set of facts and circumstances is unique, it is crucial that you discuss the facts and circumstances of your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine if any of the allowable enhancement factors apply and, if so, whether a judge is likely to rely on them to enhance your sentence if you are convicted.
Contact a Murfreesboro Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about what factors might trigger an enhanced sentence if you are convicted of a crime in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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