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Maryland Capital Punishment Laws

Many states have abolished the death penalty in recent years, and Maryland is one of those states.

Maryland became the 18th U.S. state to abolish the death penalty in 2013 when Governor Martin O'Malley signed a bill outlawing capital punishment in the state. The law replaces capital punishment with a sentence of life without parole.

The governor's office said the death penalty does not deter crime, cannot be administered without racial bias and costs three times as much as life without parole. A mistake cannot be reversed if an innocent person is put to death, the statement added.

Five other states -- Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, New York and New Jersey -- have repealed capital punishment since 2007, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Since Maryland reinstated the death penalty in 1978, 58 people had been sentenced to death in the state, but only five sentences have been carried out. Maryland has five men on death row, and its last execution took place in 2005.

The number of U.S. executions has fallen from a peak of 98 in 1999 to 43 each in 2011 and 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The pace has slowed even more in 2013, with 10 so far this year.

The basics of Maryland capital punishment law are highlighted in the following table. See History of Death Penalty Laws to learn more.

Code Section Art. 27 §§71 - 79 (repealed)
Is Capital Punishment Allowed? No, as of 2013
Effect of Defendant's Incapacity n/a
Minimum Age n/a
Available for Crimes Other than Homicide? n/a
Definition of Capital Homicide Victim was law enforcement officer on duty; defendant was confined to correctional institution; escaped/attempted to escape lawful custody, evade arrest, or detention; kidnapping; child abduction; for remuneration; while under death or life sentence; more than one murder in first degree arising from same incident; while committing/attempting to commit robbery, arson, carjacking, rape, sexual offense.
Method of Execution Previously lethal injection, now abolished

Capital Punishment in America

Capital punishment remains a hot-button issue in American politics even in states without the death penalty. While most national polls show an even split between those favoring the death penalty and those who prefer life imprisonment, recent years have seen a steady decline in the use of execution coinciding with a drop in public support of the death penalty.

In 2014, 29 people were put to death in the United States (mostly in Florida, Missouri, and Texas), down from a post-1976 peak of 98 in 1999 and part of a decline from 52 in 2009. Four states, Connecticut, New Mexico, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, have only executed volunteers (death row prisoners who waive their appeals) since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, while Kansas and New Hampshire have performed no executions in that time.

Maryland Capital Punishment Laws: Related Resources

Public opinion regarding executions is constantly changing, and state laws regarding the death penalty may shift as well. If you would like more introductory articles and resources on this topic, you can visit FindLaw’s Capital Punishment and the Death Penalty section to learn more.

Charged with a Capital Crime in Maryland? Get Legal Help

If you've been charged with a capital offense, chances are you already have counsel. After all, an unsuccessful trial on your behalf could literally cost you your life. But if you don't have legal representation yet, or you've been charged with a criminal offense that has penalties other than death, it's always beneficial to do as much research as you can and also speak with a criminal defense attorney in Maryland.

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