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Aggravation, in law, is "any circumstance attending the commission of a crime or tort which increases its guilt or enormity or adds to its injurious consequences, but which is above and beyond the essential constituents of the crime or tort itself."
Aggravated assault, for example, is usually differentiated from simple assault by the offender's intent (e.g., to murder or to rape), the extent of injury to the victim, or the use of a deadly weapon. An aggravating circumstance is a kind of attendant circumstance and the opposite of an extenuating or mitigating circumstance, which decreases guilt.
The antonym of aggravation is mitigation.
The ancient roman concept of atrocitas and the medieval concept of enormitas, with the medieval ideas of levia and mediocria crimina, or at the root of the modern legal systems for the evaluation of the seriousness of crimes
- Black, Henry Campbell. Black's Law Dictionary. 6th edition. (St. Paul, MN: West, 1991).
- See Julien Théry, "Atrocitas/enormitas. Esquisse pour une histoire de la catégorie de "crime énorme" du Moyen Âge à l’époque moderne", Clio@Themis, 4, 2011, online.
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