Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Aggravating Factors

  • Robert L. HeilbronnerEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_942


Refers to any relevant circumstances in correspondence with the evidence presented during the trial that, from the perspective of the jurors, makes the harshest penalty appropriate. By contrast, mitigating factors refer to evidence regarding the defendant’s character or circumstances related to the crime that would provide foundation for a juror to vote for a lesser sentence.

Historical Background

In 1972, the US Supreme Court considered the death penalty to be a cruel and an unusual punishment because the manner in which capital sentences were decided in Georgia was capricious (Furman v. Georgia1972). This decision discontinued death penalty litigation in the USA at that time because none of the states had a system that was substantially different. In 1976 (Gregg v. Georgia), the Court accepted as constitutional Georgia’s rewrite of their statute which included a capital sentencing process that required presentation before a judge or jury of aggravating and mitigating...

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References and Readings

  1. Denney, R. L. (2005). Criminal responsibility and other criminal forensic issues. In G. Larrabee (Ed.), Forensic neuropsychology: A scientific approach. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972).Google Scholar
  3. Gregg v. Georgia, 49 L.Ed.2d. 859 (1976).Google Scholar
  4. Melton, G. B., Petrila, J., Poythress, N. G., & Slobogin, C. (2007). Psychological evaluations for the courts: A handbook for mental health professionals and lawyers (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chicago Neuropsychology GroupChicagoUSA