Alabama Capital Punishment Laws
Last updated 12/13/2019
Alabama, along with 31 other states, permits the death penalty. Like in many states, a person who has committed a capital murder in Alabama can be sentenced to life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. These trials are split into two parts. First, there's a trial where guilt or innocence is determined. If the defendant is convicted of capital murder, then a sentencing trial takes place where the jury or judge hears the mitigating and aggravating circumstances. Mitigating circumstances tend to lessen the degree of criminal responsibility, while aggravating circumstances increase it due to the factors’ malicious nature. Both of these factors are described below.
The following table explains more on capital punishment laws in Alabama.
|Code Section||Alabama Code Title 13A: Criminal Code, Chapter 5: Punishments & Sentences, Title 2: Death Penalty & Life Imprisonment Without Parole|
|Is Capital Punishment Allowed?||Yes. Not only is the death penalty permitted, but judges can override jury recommendations of a life imprisonment sentence. In more than 90% of the 95 jury overrides since 1982, the judge imposed death when the jury chose life.|
|Minimum Age||Although Alabama law doesn’t state a minimum age for the death penalty, in 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court banned the execution of those who were juveniles when the crime occurred. At the time of this decision, Alabama death row had 13 inmates who were 16 or 17 when the crime occurred.|
|Available for Crimes Other Than Homicide?||No. In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that permitted the death penalty for the rape of a child. The death penalty in the U.S. is essentially exclusively used for murder.|
|Definition of Capital Homicide||Capital offenses in Alabama include all of these types of homicides or deaths:
|Method of Execution||Lethal injection is the primary method of execution, however, electrocution is still an option.|
|Mitigating Circumstances||Defense counsel in Alabama can provide any of the following mitigating information during the sentencing portion of a death penalty case to hopefully outweigh the aggravating circumstances:
|Aggravating Circumstances||The prosecutor would show the aggravating factors, if any, connected to the capital murder case:
Note: State laws change frequently, it’s best to verify any laws you’re researching by conducting your own research or contacting an experienced Alabama criminal defense attorney.
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