Colorado is one of 31 states that uses the death penalty to punish criminal defendants. However, the death penalty is rarely used in the state of Colorado. In fact, it has only been used once in the last 50 years. When can a criminal defendant face the possibility of death? Here’s what you should know:
When Can the Death Penalty Be Used?
Defendants who are charged with a class 1 felony crime could face the death penalty. Some of these crimes include first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and child abuse causing the death of a child.
Who Cannot Be Sentenced to Death?
The court cannot sentence certain defendants to death regardless of the crime they have committed. For example, no one under the age of 18 can receive this penalty. Also, the court cannot sentence mentally incompetent defendants to death even if they are convicted of a class 1 felony.
Who Decides If the Defendant Will Receive the Death Penalty?
It’s important to note that being convicted of a class 1 felony does not mean that you will automatically be sentenced to death. If you are convicted of a class 1 felony, you will not find out whether or not you will receive the death penalty until your sentencing hearing.
The jury and judge from your trial will be present at the sentencing hearing. Both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence to the jury to convince them to vote for or against the death penalty. For example, the defense could argue that the defendant does not deserve the death penalty because he did not have a prior criminal record or he was under duress at the time the crime was committed.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the jury will need to decide whether to sentence the defendant to life in prison or death. A defendant cannot be sentenced to death unless every member of the jury is in favor of this penalty. If even one juror votes against the death penalty, the defendant will be sentenced to life in prison instead.
Even if the defendant is sentenced to death, he has the opportunity to appeal in an attempt to prove his innocence and avoid the death penalty. But, this is rarely needed since so few defendants are ever sentenced to death.
If you are facing felony charges, it’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible. The criminal defense attorneys at Reisch Law Firm have the legal resources and expertise to win tough criminal cases. Schedule a free consultation today by calling 303-291-0555 or filling out this online form.