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aggravating circumstance n
: a circumstance relating to the commission of an act that increases the degree of liability or culpability [punitive damages are recoverable in a conversion case when the evidence shows legal malice, willfulness, insult, or other aggravating circumstances "Schwertfeger v. Moorehouse, 569 So. 2d 322 (1990)"]
: a circumstance (as lack of remorse) relating to an offense or defendant that receives consideration by the court esp. in imposing a death sentence compare mitigating circumstance
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.