Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

pp 1-2

Date: Latest Version

Aggravating Factors

  • Robert L. HeilbronnerAffiliated withChicago Neuropsychology Group Email author 


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 factors. ...

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