Crimes Punishable By Death

Summary of State Death Penalty Statutes

The Bureau of Justice Statistics Capital Punishment 2016 (pub. April 2018) lists the following as capital crimes, by state:

Alabama - Intentional murder (Ala. Stat. Ann. § 13A-5-40(a)(1)-(18)) with 10 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 14 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; treason (Ark. Code Ann. § 5-51-201).

California - First-degree murder with special circumstances; military sabotage; death in the course of train wrecking; treason; perjury resulting in execution of an innocent person; 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 - First-degree murder with at least 1 of 17 aggravating factors; first-degree kidnapping resulting in death; treason. [First-degree murder is defined in C.R.S. § 18-3-102. First-degree kidnapping is defined in C.R.S. § 18-3-301. Aggravating factors are set forth in C.R.S. § 18-1.3-1201(5).]

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 with aggravating factors; felony murder. [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 18 aggravating circumstances (I.C. 35-50-2-9).

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

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

Louisiana - First-degree murder with aggravating circumstances (La. R.S. 14:30); 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 - Capital murder with one of nine aggravating circumstances (Mont. Code Ann. § 46-18-303); aggravated kidnapping; felony murder; aggravated sexual intercourse without consent (Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-503).

Nebraska - First-degree murder with a finding of one 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* - Murder committed in the course of rape, kidnapping, drug crimes, or home invasion; killing of a police officer, judge, or prosecutor; murder for hire; murder by an inmate while serving a sentence of life without parole (R.S.A. 630:1, R.S.A. 630:5).

New Mexico** - First-degree murder with at least one of seven aggravating factors (N.M.S.A. § 1978 31-20A-5.)

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 one of eight 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 15 aggravating circumstances (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-204).

Texas - Criminal homicide with one of nine aggravating circumstances (Tex. Penal Code § 19.03).

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

Virginia - Pre-meditated murder with 1 of 15 aggravating circumstances (VA Code § 18.2-31(1-15)).

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; murder during the commission of sexual assault, sexual abuse of a minor, arson, robbery, burglary, escape, resisting arrest, kidnapping, or abuse of a minor under 16. (W.S.A. § 6-2-101(a))

*The New Hampshire state legislature overrode the governor’s veto of death penalty repeal legislation in May 2019, prospectively abolishing the state’s death penalty.

**New Mexico abolished the death penalty on July 1, 2009. BJS lists the statute with a note stating that “Offenders who committed capital offenses prior to that date are eligible for the death penalty.”

***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). The legislature has rejected efforts to revise the statute and restore the death penalty.