The “Evidence Necessary to Prove an Element” Limitation on Aggravating Factors

Under G.S. 15A-1340.16(d), “[e]vidence necessary to prove an element of the offense shall not be used to prove any factor in aggravation.” The general idea behind that rule is to prevent the defendant from getting extra punishment via an aggravating factor for something that is inherent in the crime of conviction. A similar prohibition existed under Fair Sentencing, so we have a relatively large body of case law that helps us understand the rule.

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