Recently, California made the news in regards to death row inmates and the death penalty in that state. No more executions will be performed. For hundreds of inmates awaiting execution, that is a sigh of relief. However, thousands of other inmates in multiple other states are not quite so lucky. If you are charged with a crime worthy of the death penalty in your state, you will need a very good criminal attorney in your corner. Here is what you need to know about this very serious form of punishment.
Thirty of Fifty States Still Have the Death Penalty on the Books
People assume that if they have not heard about anyone being executed in their state that the death penalty does not exist there. Unfortunately, that is a mistake to not know which states have capital punishment and which do not. Everyone knows that Texas still has the death penalty, but people are often surprised to hear that Midwestern states like Ohio and Illinois still have this form of punishment too.
Wisconsin and Minnesota do not but many southern states, especially those in the Bible Belt, do. As you head into your trial, be sure to look up the states that carry this form of punishment, how often it is still done/completed, what the most recent execution date was, and the likelihood that you may escape such punishment if you are convicted. Then, discuss the matter with your attorney.
If Your Lawyer Cannot Fully Prove Your Innocence, He/She Can Ask for a Reduced Sentence
Sometimes people charged with a crime were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. They made a poor decision, they ended up in a position where they did not know what to do, and/or they did not have the mental capacity to stop what was happening. If any of these situations apply to you, your lawyer can attempt to remove the death penalty from the table by bargaining with the prosecutor.
Of course, you could also go to trial and plead your case as innocent, which requires monumental work to produce the burden of proof needed to sustain a claim of "not guilty" for cognitive or mental/psychological defects. If none of these approaches work, and the jury is intent on convicting you, your lawyer can still ask for a reduced sentence, for mercy, and redemption when your criminal record is null of other crimes. For more information, contact a criminal defense attorney such as Jeffrey Wiggs.