More people worldwide now consider capital punishment a human-rights violation. The majority of executions take place in Iran, China, and the United States. In the US, 37 states and the federal government allow execution as a criminal penalty under certain circumstances. Additionally, the states with the highest numbers of executions are Texas, Florida, Virginia, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Experienced legal counsel is of the utmost importance for anyone accused of a capital crime.

If you are accused of a serious crime, then it is essential that you retain the services of a competent and experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight for your legal and constitutional rights throughout the criminal justice process. Remember that if you cannot afford an attorney, then you can potentially get a free, court-appointed lawyer. View an overview of Criminal Defense.

Background

In 1972, the US Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty constituted unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. Since then, death penalty states have enacted new standards to meet the Supreme Court’s constitutional requirements. Broadly, a criminal sentence of death is unconstitutional unless the jury is allowed to meaningfully consider mitigating and aggravating factors from which the members of the jury can make a meaningful individualized decision about whether death would be appropriate considering the defendant’s particular background, record, and character and the circumstances of the crime. Get classifications of Alabama crimes.

The Supreme Court has also ruled that capital punishment is unconstitutional when applied to persons with developmental disabilities and to minor children.

Philosophy

Capital punishment is the object of much emotion and debate in the US. People in support of it make some of these points:

  • The defendant will not be able to escape or ever again commit a crime.
  • Execution is an appropriate punishment for certain heinous crimes.
  • The possibility of capital punishment as a criminal sanction will deter future criminals.
  • The death of the perpetrator makes amends for his or her criminal act.

Arguments against the death penalty include:

  • Life imprisonment without parole is a sufficient punishment; additionally, death is an excessive punishment; escape from prison is extremely rare.
  • The killing by the government of the criminal defendant is itself a violent and immoral act.
  • The defendant could be innocent and execution is final.
  • Statistics show a weak link between murder rates and the availability of the death penalty so it may not be meaningfully deterrent.
  • It makes us more unpopular diplomatically and gives us less clout to challenge human rights abuses abroad.
  • There is also evidence of racial discrimination and inadequate legal representation in death penalty cases.

In the US, the death penalty debate will no doubt continue to rage in the public and in the courts.

Conclusion

If you face a charge that could result in the imposition of the death penalty, then seek the advice of a skilled defense attorney as early in the process as possible. Remember, if you cannot afford a lawyer, then you may be eligible for free legal counsel through the court system.

Your lawyer should fight on your behalf every step of the way. If you face the death penalty, then your criminal-defense attorney will work hard with you to present evidence of your character and any difficult circumstances that contributed to the situation. A criminal-defense lawyer can also advise you of your options.

DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are only informational and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.