Many people mistakenly believe that a charge and an aggravated charge are the same thing with different names. They are mistaken, and the differences between the two are important. In most cases placing the word aggravated in front of the charge changes it from a misdemeanor to a felony.
Typically rules and guidelines are in place that mandate when a misdemeanor charge will be bumped to a felony, and each state sets its own criteria. Here are some differences:
Assault: This might be pushing, slapping, shoving, poking or threatening somebody. A weapon is not typically involved in this charge, however it could be. For instance you tossed a book at somebody but didn’t hit the person. In an argument you threw your car keys at the other person.
Aggravated assault: If you used a weapon in an attempt to cause physical injury or you caused physical injury by using your hands, you might be charged with aggravated assault. For instance, if you got angry with someone and hit him or her with your car; you swung a baseball bat at a person (whether you hit them with it or not); you picked up a brick and hit them in anger.
Statutory rape: This is usually used when an adult has sexual relations with someone who is under the state’s mandated age of consent. In Tennessee, if one party is 18 or older and the other party is 17 or under it is stat rape. Other states have a younger age of consent, such as 16 years of age.
Aggravated statutory rape: Each state determines when statutory rape becomes a felony for aggravated statutory rape. In Tennessee, it is aggravated if the adult provided drugs or alcohol to the minor before having sex with the minor, or if the age difference between the two parties is greater than 10 years.
Robbery: Most states specify that making another person fear for their safety while stealing from them is robbery. There is no weapon involved, but the victim is intimidated or threatened if he or she does not comply with the robber’s demands.
Aggravated robbery: When a gun, bat, knife, pitchfork or any other weapon has been used, in most cases the charge will be bumped to aggravated robbery.
Final thoughts: In many cases a state will saddle the defendant with an aggravated charge so that later, an offer will be accepted to reduce it to a misdemeanor and avoid a felony trial. An attorney should advise you on your charge and your individual case.