Crimes Punishable By Death

Summary of State Death Penalty Statutes

The Bureau of Justice Statistics Capital Punishment 2021 (pub. November 2023) lists the following as capital crimes, by state:

Alabama - Intentional murder (Ala. Stat. Ann. § 13A-5-40(a)(1)-(18)) with 14 aggravating factors (Ala. Stat. Ann. § 13A-5-49).

Arizona - First-degree murder, including pre-meditated murder and felony murder, accompanied by at least 1 of 10 aggravating factors (A.R.S. § 13-703(F)). [First-degree murder is defined in A.R.S. § 13-1105. Aggravating and mitigating circumstances are set forth at A.R.S. § 13-751.]

Arkansas - Capital murder (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-10-101) with a finding of at least 1 of 10 aggravating circumstances; and treason (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-51-201).

California - First-degree murder with special circumstances; military sabotage; trainwreck causing death; treason; perjury resulting in execution of an innocent person; and fatal assault by a prisoner serving a life sentence.

[California’s death penalty provisions are set forth in Cal. Penal Code §§ 187-199. Section 187 defines first-degree murder. Section 190.2 sets forth the “special circumstances” that make a first-degree murder death-eligible.]

Colorado - [Abolished the death penalty in 2021]

Connecticut - [Abolished the death penalty in 2012]

Delaware - First-degree murder (11 Del. C. § 636) with at least 1 statutory aggravating circumstance (11 Del. C. § 4209). [In August 2016, the Delaware Supreme Court found the existing statute unconstitutional. As of May 1, 2018, there is no constitutionally valid death-penalty statute.]

Florida - First-degree murder, defined as premeditated murder, felony murder, and death resulting from capital drug-trafficking felonies. [First-degree murder is defined in Fl. Stat. § 782.04. Aggravating circumstances are now set forth in Fl. Stat. § 921.141(6).]

Georgia - Murder with aggravating circumstances; rape, armed robbery, or kidnapping with bodily injury or ransom when the victim dies; aircraft hijacking; treason. (GA Code § 17-10-30)

Idaho - First-degree murder with aggravating factors; first-degree kidnapping; perjury resulting in the execution of an innocent person. [Idaho Stat. § 19-2515]

Indiana - Murder with 1 or more of 18 aggravating circumstances (I.C. 35-50-2-9).

Kansas - Intentional and premeditated killing of a person in 1 or more of 7 different circumstances (KSA § 21-5401).

Kentucky - Intentional murder with the presence of at least 1 statutory aggravating circumstance; and capital kidnapping (KRS § 532.025).

Louisiana - First-degree murder with aggravating circumstances (La. R.S. 14:30); and treason (La. R.S. 14:113).

Mississippi - Capital murder with aggravating circumstances (Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-19(2)); aircraft piracy (Miss. Code Ann. § 97-25-55(1)).

Missouri - First-degree murder with at least 1 statutory aggravating circumstance (565.032.1 RSMO). [Missouri’s aggravating circumstances: 565.032.1 RSMO.]

Montana - Deliberate homicide, including felony murder, with 1 of 9 aggravating circumstances (Mont. Code Ann. § 46-18-303); aggravated kidnapping resulting in death of victim or rescuer; attempted deliberate homicide; aggravated assault, or kidnapping while in detention; and capital sexual intercourse without consent (Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-503).

Nebraska - First-degree murder with a finding of 1 or more statutory aggravating circumstance. [Nebraska Rev. § Stat 29-2523]

Nevada - First-degree murder with at least 1 of 15 aggravating circumstances (NRS 200.030, 200.033, 200.035).

New Hampshire [Abolished the death penalty in 2019. This legislation did not apply retrospectively, leaving one individual on the state’s death row.]

New Mexico -[Abolished the death penalty in 2009]

New York* - First-degree murder of 1 of 13 aggravating factors (NY Penal Law § 125.27.)

North Carolina - First-degree murder (NCGS §14-17) with the finding of at least 1 of 11 statutory aggravating circumstances (NCGS §15A-2000).

Ohio - Aggravated murder with at least 1 of 10 aggravating circumstances (O.R.C. §§ 2903.01, 2929.02, 2929.04).

Oklahoma - First-degree murder in conjunction with a finding of at least 1 of 8 statutorily defined aggravating circumstances. (21 OK Stat § 21-701.12 (2015))

Oregon - Aggravated murder (ORS § 163.095).

Pennsylvania - First-degree murder with 18 aggravating circumstances. [42 Pa.C.S. § 9711]

South Carolina - Murder with 1 of 12 aggravating circumstances (§ 16-3-20(C)(a))

South Dakota - First-degree murder with 1 of 10 aggravating circumstances. (S.D.C.L. 23A-27A-1).

Tennessee - First-degree murder (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202) with 1 of 18 aggravating circumstances (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-204).

Texas - Capital murder, defined as criminal homicide with 1 of 9 aggravating circumstances (Tex. Penal Code § 19.03).

Utah - Aggravated murder (Utah Code Ann. § 76-5-202).

Virginia - [Abolished the death penalty in 2021]

Washington** - Aggravated first-degree murder. [RCW § 10.95.020] [In October 2018, the Washington Supreme Court found the existing statute unconstitutional.]

Wyoming - First-degree murder, including premeditated murder and murder during the commission of sexual assualt, sexual abuse of a minor, arson, robbery, burglary, escape, resisting arrest, kidnapping, or abuse of a minor younger than age 16 (W.S.A. § 6-2-101(a))

*New York abolished the death penalty in 2007. BJS lists the statute with a note explaining that the New York Court of Appeals held that a portion of the state’s death-penalty sentencing statute (CPL 400.27) was unconstitutional. See People v. Taylor, 9 N.Y. 3d 129 (2007) (applying ruling to remaining prisoners on death row). No legislative action has been taken to amend the statute. As a result, capital cases are no longer pursued in New York.

**Washington state Governor Jay Inslee signed legislation on April 21, 2023, formally abolishing the death penalty and removing the state laws that were previously found unconstitutional.