Also referred to as the Death Penalty Law or the Death Penalty Statute, it was first introduced into the legal code of the Ancient Greeks more than 2,000 years ago.
Over the years, it has evolved considerably, taking on profound ethical and legal significance in all countries which allow it. As of 2019, most countries, including the U.S., China, India, and Saudi Arabia, do so.
Capital Punishment, or the Death Penalty, is legal in the U.S. for a crime punishable by death. Ancient civilizations first used it, and, in the modern era, it has often been considered an appropriate punishment for particularly heinous crimes such as murder.
Although polls indicate that most Americans support capital punishment, capital punishment seems to have lost support in recent years, resulting in lower execution numbers without a corresponding decline in the total number of inmates on death row. Much of this shift can be attributed to the fact that state and federal judges have determined that capital punishment is being applied unfairly and, therefore, violates the Constitution.
The death penalty is one of the most hotly-contested issues surrounding criminal justice. While supporters argue that the death penalty is a deterrent and upholds justice, opponents challenge the claim that regular people are capable of certain moral decisions.
An additional concern we should consider is the collateral damage caused by the imposition of the death penalty, which is imposed on a significant portion of people with first offenses, whereas it is reserved (in most jurisdictions) for murderers who commit the most egregious, cold-blooded crimes.
The sentencing hearing of a capital case is the time in a trial when jurors decide a defendant's fate.
A particular proceeding will be held in which the jury will determine the defendant's guilt or innocence.
Upon completion of that proceeding, the court will hold a sentencing hearing to determine if the defendant should live or die without affecting their decision on guilt or innocence. A separate jury, and not the same jury that convicted the defendant, will get to hear evidence in the trial's sentencing phase.
The jury, not the judge. After a verdict has been rendered and newly-convicted individuals are sentenced, the lawyers for both sides are allowed one more opportunity to speak to the jury before the trial is over. During this phase, the prosecution introduces evidence of aggravating circumstances, such as previous convictions or a lack of remorse. The defense counters evidence of mitigating circumstances, such as the defendant's age or mental capacity. The prosecution may also ask friends and family of the victim to speak about the impact of the defendant's conduct on their lives.
A defendant who has been convicted of a capital offense will be allowed to appeal their case to a higher court. Death penalty appeals occur in stages. The first stage is known as a direct appeal.
The direct appeal is filed in the state appellate court system for an individual convicted in a state trial court. The direct appeal can only raise issues that appear on the record, such as erroneous evidentiary rulings made by the judge at trial. The appellate court will review the evidence presented in the trial and determine whether the convicted defendant received a fair trial and that their rights were not violated in the process.
A post-conviction remedy is available to the person convicted of a capital crime but who was sentenced to death. This remedy was codified in 1977 by the Premix case and allowed for the appointment of counsel to present issues to the state courts. After the state courts decide on the result of the Division I issue, the defendant can petition the federal court for a writ of habeas corpus.
This means that the person can file a petition with the federal court that reviews the district court's decision. The federal district court is the court of original jurisdiction, so if a writ of habeas corpus is denied, the defendant can petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. If certiorari is granted, the case is scheduled for oral arguments.
According to the Pew Research Center, an estimated 2,585 of the people on death row in the United States are black.
Capital offenses, such as those involving the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole, are challenging cases to defend, and they require an attorney with a strong command of the law and extensive experience with similar cases.
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