A University of Minnesota student waited at a bus stop in early September. According to Minnesota Daily, a man joined her at the stop and, after a few moments, told her to hand over her belongings. The young woman said she could see there was something under his sweatshirt, but she determined that he did not have a gun. The man grabbed her book bag and fled. A passerby was able to retrieve the bag and noticed that the weapon the man had was a screwdriver. The man fled the scene.
Law enforcement say he could face an aggravated robbery charge when he is found due to the fact that he threatened the young woman with a weapon. In Minnesota, there are several ways that a situation could be elevated to an aggravated crime, which comes with more severe consequences.
Defining aggravating factors
According to Minnesota statute, people charged with a crime could face steeper penalties if certain aggravating factors are present, such as specifically targeting a victim due to race, sex, color, sexual orientation, disability, age or religion. Other factors include the following:
- There was particularly cruel treatment involved, or the crime was committed in front of a child.
- The defendant knew that the victim was especially vulnerable, either due to age, illness or handicap.
- The crime had a major economic impact, either with multiple victims, substantial monetary loss and/or a high degree of sophistication.
- The crime is a sexual offense and the defendant has a previous felony conviction for a similar crime, or the crime involves a serious injury and the defendant has a previous felony conviction for a similar crime.
- The offense is a drug offense involving certain conditions such as the sale or transfer of controlled substances or the defendant possessed a firearm during the act.
People who are considered a dangerous offender may also receive aggravated sentencing for their third violent crime. Based on these factors, a variety of charges ranging from DWI to assault to murder could quickly become aggravated crimes.
Tacking aggravating factors onto a crime will always mean harsher sentencing. For example, simple robbery in Minnesota could result in $20,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison. A first-degree aggravated robbery, which, similar to the situation with the University of Minnesota student, would involve a weapon or an item used to make someone think it is a weapon, could merit as long as 20 years in prison and up to $35,000 in fines.
Anyone with questions regarding how the state determines and punishes aggravating factors should consult with an attorney.