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What Is Capital Murder?
Ain't No Rest for the Wicked!
So, what is capital murder? Capital murder charges are among the graver charges that can impose stricter punishments on the individual. They aim at drawing a legal penalty toward the offender under legal procedures. It necessitates that the law of the land shall not let go of any severe attack on the citizens irrespective of national and international boundaries.
However, the wound inflicted on an individual which may cause death must be an intentional attempt on the part of the criminal. It does not take into account the accidental attack on self-defense.
Charges for capital murder take into account sexual assault of women, terroristic threat, premeditated murder, criminal homicide, serious bodily injury, aggravated robbery, bank robbery, armed robbery, and illegal transactions. However, legal steps are necessary if the offender is found guilty under prosecution, depending on these grounds. But before making one submit to death or lifelong imprisonment, jury trials stand vital. They allow the offenders to voice their concerns before the final verdict gets passed.
As per Constitutional remedies, a general punishment for a person convicted can be life imprisonment. On a severe note, it can get as deadly as the death penalty. But the intensity of the punishment differs from state to state and country to country. For instance, in Great Britain and Ireland, it gets notified as a statutory offense under statutory county court.
Interestingly, the United Nations Supreme Court does not support the act of the death penalty if the person who commits murder is mentally unsound or juvenile. Let us briefly study the aspects that make a crime capital and the different charges that differentiate murder from capital murders.
What Makes a Crime Capital?
Considering a crime as capital requires an inspection of the type of killing that occurs in a social setup. So, for instance, if a killing occurs out of self-defense and retaliation against a terrorist attack, it may not draw the severity of the death penalty under capital murder. But if it gets proved that there lie some evil intentions of inflicting harm to personal life and liberty, the chances that you may have to get charged with capital murder are high.
United Nations Constitution states that life-threatening crimes like bribery, espionage, treason, and drug trafficking may invite stricter guidelines for its citizens to keep a check on criminal cases. For instance, Article 1, 2, and 3 of the US Constitution justifies the category of capital crimes mentioned above. But it also rules out through the 8th Amendment in the Bill of Rights that the Constitution shall protect the citizens from public hanging spectacles, firing on firing squads, stockades, extortions, and excessive fines for pardon from the Court.
However, following the case of Kennedy v/s Louisiana, the Supreme Court withholds that a person convicted of any crime shall only be punished with capital punishment if the victim dies out of the injury. In this case study, Kennedy was found guilty of raping an 8-year-old girl, but the girl survived after surgery. However, the offender got executed.
This case study is a milestone because after this judgment, the strict guideline of not imposing capital punishment on the criminal if the victim survives got legalized.
What Are the Steps Involved in Dealing With Capital Murder With Severe Punishment?
Categorizing whether the crime in question is capital murder follows jury trials and hearings. However, before it reaches the apex court for final judgment, enough space is given to the offender and victim to uphold their argument and pieces of evidence. Let us look at some common steps that get followed before deciding who is the victor and who is the victim.
The initial step is to arrest the convict found guilty by the First Information Report. Following his arrest, the accused must have the right to know the charges filed against him by the victim. For example, suppose a convict is under arrest in charge of sexual assault. In that case, the medical test of the offender and the victim stands essential within 24 to 72 hours – reports collected should be shown as evidence in the trial.
The task here gets initiated by a police officer. After the shreds of evidence get processed, the jury hearing is a deciding factor in whether the convict is found guilty of a capital crime or not.
Finally, the cases reach the judicial authority for the final verdict through criminal proceedings. Once the verdict gets delivered, the sentencing phase concludes the destiny of the offender. Whether an individual is to be jailed or to receive a death sentence, the division bench comes to a collective verdict after the criminal proceeding.
What’s the Difference Between Murder and Capital Murder?
With emerging criminal activities at times, it becomes challenging to distinguish between the severity of murder and capital murder. The easy way is to point out the difference between the death penalty. Though the legal framework classifies any form of killing as criminal homicide, the punishment may differ according to the intensity.
According to Texas penal code 19.02(b)(1), a murder in Texas can occur if a person intentionally commits criminal acts like treason, killing of more than one person, or if a killing occurs during a commission. In such cases, a defendant guilty has to pay a fine of $ 10,000, and the punishment may go up to lifelong imprisonment for 99 years.
But, the extremity of the crime transforms it into capital murder if a person commits the murder of a peace officer or fireman having the intentions of killing. If such a killing occurs on the felonies of aggravated sexual assault, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat, it generally attracts criminal trial under an affiliated penal institution.
Also, if the criminal act gets committed by an incarcerated person due to previous grudges, it gets enlisted as capital murder. It is significant that if an offender kills a judge for delivering a strict verdict previously, the law shall punish the person with no less than the death penalty without any scheme of parole release.
What Is the Punishment For Capital Murder in the USA?
Punishment for murder charged with capital murder varies from country to country. For example, the rules following aggravated felonies in Texas differ from Nevada Capital Felony laws. However, the Constitution lays down laws that dictate punishments for capital murder in the USA to deliver uniform justice for horrific deeds.
Interestingly, in the USA, the abolition of capital punishment is in process in 23 out of 27 states. Washington DC, the country’s capital, is no exception. So let us understand how the charges and punishment vary from state to state.
According to Texas Penal Code, if a person commits a felony murder, an individual may receive a capital punishment of the death penalty or a life sentence. However, the criminal below seventeen may have a different method since Texas law discards the elimination of a convict below seventeen. In the case of first-degree murder, the convict has to pay a pardon fine of 10,000 dollars or more.
For a person punished with imprisonment, the duration may range between 5 years to 99 years, depending on the severity of the organized criminal activity. A defendant guilty of second-degree murder will undergo imprisonment for 2 to 20 years.
In Nevada, dealing with a criminal act involves punishing an offender with capital. In case of intentional killing or felony murder, a person incarcerated has to accept the death penalty. Open murder gets listed in honor killing or criminal homicide. Interestingly, Nevada is the only state in the USA that considers first-degree murder as capital murder.
However, a close inspection deserves mention to understand the aggravating circumstances that led to the killing. However, the jury investigates shreds of evidence submitted by both persons(victim and offender) before coming to a legal conclusion.
According to Virginia Penal Code, murder is a willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing caused due to money fraud, extortion, abduction, bank robbery, sexual assault, arson or retaliation, or felony murder. However, 2021 witnessed bills passed to abolish the death penalty for other crimes.
It is vital to note that Virginia has been a top-ranking state to have executed more prisoners regarding poor defense representation.
Notably, for a capital murder charge, a convict has to pay a fine of up to $100,000. But in the case of felony murder, the punishment is the death penalty. Unlike Texas laws, Virginia does not pardon convicts with mental disabilities. Therefore, an individual with psychological issues has to accept life-long imprisonment.
According to Missouri Penal Code, an offender above the age of 16 and attempting capital murder has to accept the legal verdict of punishment. The laws of capital murder include homicide of first-degree murder with prior intentions. Also, the state can impose stricter crimes if the criminal act is a part of organized activity. Interestingly, Missouri legal administration uses the lethal injection killing or gas chamber execution under some specialized provisions to deal with capital crimes.
Florida rules initiate that if a convict gets arrested for a repetitive act of felony murder, that person may fall under the category of capital crime convict. Also, if a defendant is guilty of killing more than one person to ensure an escape from custody or for monetary gain, the verdict shall go against the right to live.
Capital punishment in Florida gets initiated through lethal injections, electrocution, and electric chairs. However, public hanging was the punishment for convicts before 1923. With the new law passed by Florida Legislature, the execution in public places got discarded. The method involves the elimination of men and females in separate prisons.
Final Words – What Is Capital Murder?
Human intuitions get dictated by psychological complexities. A criminal act committed gets rewarded by the legal authorities through the kinds of punishments discussed above. Such a pang of guilt is retaliated by what is called retributive justice. But here, justice does not require any interference from the divine beings. A criminal act reaches the justice court and gets analyzed by the criminal law.
However, multiple amendments have ensured that crimes are not always deliberate attacks. Sometimes is a result of sudden passion arising out of misleading information. To deal with such cases, district administration and constitutional county court may offer provisions through which criminal appeals to the apex court to lower the severity of the punishment under the law. However, a victim may appeal to the Court to seek the death penalty for the offender during the criminal trial if an individual has committed the crime.
But whether it’s a capital murder case is a decision of the judicial authorities. A murder committed may never go unnoticed. Even if justice gets delayed, justice shall not get denied under the law.