Special circumstances (criminal law)
Concept in criminal law / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Special circumstances in criminal law are actions of the accused, or conditions under which a crime, particularly homicide, was committed. Such factors require or allow for a more severe punishment.
Special circumstances are elements of the crime itself, and thus must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt during the guilt phase of the trial. As such, they are formally distinct from aggravating circumstances, in that the latter are proven during the penalty phase of the trial instead.