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What are some points I should know about capital punishment?

People in Alabama who are convicted of capital murder face the death penalty. This very serious penalty associated with this crime is one reason why it is vital that anyone who is facing a murder charge gets started on building a defense right away. In Alabama, there are some very interesting points that some people might find interesting.

What types of murders might qualify a person for the death penalty?

Capital offenses can include murders that involve the death of two or more people, the death of a minor who is under 14 years old and murders done for money. It is also possible for the murder of a witness to a crime, law enforcement officer, public official or prison guard to be considered a capital offense if the case meets certain criteria. A murder that occurs in conjunction with robbery, sodomy, sexual abuse, arson, rape, a kidnapping or a hijacking can also qualify as a capital offense. Drive-by shootings, the use of a explosives and killing a victim in a home or car are also capital offenses.

Who decides if a convicted person gets the death penalty?

A jury can decide if a person who was convicted of a capital offense should spend life in prison or be sentenced to death. Interestingly, the judge presiding over the case can override the jury’s decision. This means the judge can opt to change a life prison sentence to a death sentence or a death sentence of a life in prison sentence. A person who commits a capital offense as a juvenile can’t face the death penalty because of a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

There are several defense options for a defendant facing murder charges to explore. Understanding each option can help defendants to determine how to handle their defense.

Source: FindLaw, “Alabama Capital Punishment Laws,” accessed Sep. 28, 2015