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New York Capital Punishment Laws

Capital Punishment Laws in General

Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is reserved for the most heinous crimes in states that still impose the ultimate sentence. Capital crimes may include but are not limited to first-degree murder, accidental murder in the commission of another felony (such as armed robbery or kidnapping), and the murder of a police officer.

The death penalty has a long and complex history in the United States and was strongly influenced by European criminal law. Even minor offenses such as shoplifting were punishable by death in some colonies prior to the nation's founding.

A Brief History of New York's Capital Punishment Laws

New York no longer has the death penalty, which was abolished in 2007 (the state actually has abolished and reinstated capital punishment multiple times in its history).

The state stopped all executions in 1984, 11 years after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the practice. It was again reinstated by Governor George Pataki in 1995, using lethal injection as the means of execution. But executions were halted after the New York Court of Appeals found it unconstitutional.

The statute was changed in 2007, officially prohibiting the death penalty. Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole became New York's stiffest penalty after capital punishment was abolished.

Information about the abolition of New York's capital punishment laws and procedures in 2007 is listed in the following box. See FindLaw's Death Penalty section for more articles about capital punishment laws.

Code Section N/A -- capital punishment abolished in 2007
Is Capital Punishment Allowed? No. After the 2004 New York Court of Appeals decision in People v. LaValle, which found that the capital punishment statute violated the state's constitution, New York has not practiced the death penalty. It was formally abolished in 2007, with the last remaining death sentences converted to life imprisonment.
Effect of Defendant's Incapacity -
Minimum Age -
Available for Crimes Other than Homicide? -
Definition of Capital Homicide -
Method of Execution -

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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New York Capital Punishment Laws: Related Resources

Have More Questions About New York Capital Punishment Laws? Ask an Attorney

Even though New York no longer has the death penalty, there are still severe penalties for serious crimes. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, now is the time to act. Contact a criminal defense attorney in New York to learn about the laws, find out if there are any appeals available, and discover what your options are going forward.

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