Defense of the Death Penalty

What Is the Death Penalty?

The death penalty, also known as capital punishment, is the legal practice of executing someone as a consequence of a crime. Crimes that can result in a death sentence are known as capital crimes or capital offenses.

Most societies have practiced the death penalty throughout history to punish criminals and deter would-be offenders from committing similar crimes. Recently, however, there has been growing opposition to the death penalty.

Death Penalty Laws in the US

There are currently 27 U.S. states that have the death penalty, and the federal government, and all of them have different requirements for when to impose the punishment. For example, in some states, the death penalty can only be imposed if the crime is particularly heinous, while other states have no such restrictions.

The methods of execution for capital murder offenses vary from state to state and can include lethal injection, electrocution, gas chamber, or firing squad.

While the death penalty is not currently legal in all 50 states, it is still imposed fairly regularly in some parts of the country. Despite recent moves to abolish the death penalty altogether, several death penalty cases are still pending. The lawyers at Swingle Levin LLC have worked to end the death penalty in Georgia and oppose all applications of the death penalty.

Which Crimes Are Punishable by the Death Penalty?

Crimes that may be sentenced with the death penalty vary from state to state. For example, in some states, only capital murder can result in the death penalty.

However, as a rule of thumb, where it is legal, the death penalty is authorized for murder, treason, espionage, genocide, and certain aggravated cases of rape, kidnapping, and armed robbery.  The U.S. Supreme Court, however, has limited its application only to murder committed by a competent individual over the age of 18.

Common Defenses Strategies Against the Death Penalty

Death penalty defense can be complex and challenging. Factors for defense include whether or not the defendant committed the crime, any prior criminal history, mitigating information about the defendant, legal objections, negotiations, and numerous other avenues. There is no single script for defending against the death penalty.  

Three Common Arguments in Favor of the Death Penalty

There are three main arguments in favor of the death penalty:

Deterrence 

The belief is that if people know they can die for certain crimes, they will be less likely to commit them. However, common sense suggests that most people committing murder are not conducting a finely tuned analysis about the future costs and benefits of their present actions.

Retribution (An Eye for an Eye)

Some people believe that murderers deserve capital punishment because they have taken someone else’s life and deserve to have their own life taken away in return. This argument goes back to barbaric eye-for-an-eye morality.  Many victim’s families report that the hoped for satisfaction from the death of a defendant never arrives.

Incapacitation 

Incapacitation means that criminals sentenced to death are removed from society, so they can never commit crimes again. However, this argument assumed that tighter restrictions do not exist.  There are always smaller and more secure prisons with which we can detain people short of killing them.

Opposition to the Death Penalty

Opponents of the death penalty often argue that it violates the right to life and is a cruel and unusual punishment. They argue that no one should have the power to take another person’s life. They point to cases where innocent people have been sentenced to death and later exonerated as proof that the system is flawed.

They also argue that the death penalty disproportionately impacts those from lower-income backgrounds and minority groups who lack access to sufficient legal representation.

A final argument against the death penalty is that other punishments, such as life in prison, are more effective at deterring crime than the death penalty.

Is There a Solution to the Death Penalty?

Finding alternatives to the death penalty that have maintained deterrence, retribution, and incapacitation has helped keep new death sentences at a record low. Modern debate on the alternative approaches to the death penalty to abolish the death sentence has resulted in adopting the following methods for guilty individuals:

  1. A mandatory life imprisonment sentence for offenders with an option of sentence review
  2. A sentence of life without parole
  3. A discretionary sentence wherein a judge can impose a life sentence or a minimum imprisonment term

How Can Swingle Levin LLC Help You in Your Capital Punishment Case?

Swingle Levin LLC can assist you if you face a trial with capital punishment. We have experience handling death sentence cases and can represent your case in court. The team works tirelessly to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair trial in your death penalty case.

Our team also investigates all aspects of the case and gathers credible evidence to support your defense. If you are facing a sentence and want a proper representation, contact us today to discuss your case and learn how we can help you.