Certified Capital Offense Attorneys in Yuma, Arizona
A capital offense is a serious crime for which the death penalty is a possible verdict. In Arizona, the death penalty may only be imposed for the following capital offenses: first-degree murder, premeditated murder and felony murder.
If the prosecution wants to ask for the death penalty in a case, they must file a notice of intent within 30 days of the defendant's arraignment (when official charges are brought).
In cases of capital offenses, there are two major phases of the case: the trial phase and the sentencing phase.
During the trial phase of a capital case, the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of a capital offense.
If a person has been convicted of the capital offense(s) in question, the sentencing phase will begin, during which the aggravating and mitigating facts of the case will be weighed to determine if the death penalty should be issued.
Prior to 2002, a trial judge was responsible for weighing the aggravating and mitigating factors of a capital case to impose the death penalty or life imprisonment. However, in 2002, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case of Ring v Arizona that Arizona's law was unconstitutional because it violated a criminal defendant's right to a trial by jury.
Today, a jury must decide whether to impose the death penalty, rather than a judge. In the sentencing phase of a capital case, the prosecution will set forth evidence of the aggravating factors and the criminal defense will provide evidence of any possible mitigating factors, which would give reason to grant leniency.
If the jury finds sufficient evidence of at least one of 10 aggravating circumstances, without the presence of mitigating factors, the death penalty may be imposed. It may also be imposed when the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances.
Representation by a qualified criminal defense attorney is essential in a case involving a capital offense. The qualified and highly experienced criminal defense attorneys at Bowman & Smith presently handle capital cases and are prepared to aggressively protect and maximize your legal interests.
Competence and commitment in criminal defense are paramount to reducing the severity of the consequences in a capital case. To learn more about capital offenses, please contact us to speak with an attorney at Bowman & Smith, today.