Is the Death Penalty Legal in Arizona? - Phoenix Criminal Law News

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Is the Death Penalty Legal in Arizona?

With Washington declaring a moratorium on the death penalty, Arizonans may be wondering if death penalty is legal in their state.

Famous cases where the death penalty is a possibility, like with Jodi Arias, bring Arizona capital punishment to center stage.

Here's a brief legal history of the death penalty in Arizona.

Death Penalty History

In 1973, Arizona enacted a statute that provided the procedure for death penalty cases. At that time, a separate sentencing hearing was held before a trial judge, rather than a jury, and the law stated six serious crimes that could qualify a person for a death sentence, according to Arizona Attorney General's Office.

However, under current Arizona laws, only those who've committed first degree premeditated murder or felony murder are eligible for capital punishment. Murderers over the age of 15 may be put on death row. Arizona's method of execution is by lethal injection.

During the trial process, mitigating factors, such as mental capacity, are considered by prosecutors when deciding whether to seek the death penalty. Under the new laws in Arizona, a jury must first determine that the state has established at least one statutory aggravating circumstance -- like that the defendant committed the murder in a particularly heinous manner. If prosecutor doesn't establish at least one aggravated circumstance, then the death penalty is off the table, according to the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

Finally, death penalty cases are automatically appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court and an Arizona criminal appeals attorney can handle the defendant's case.

Famous Women on Death Row

It's somewhat rare to see women on death row. In Arizona, there are currently only two women on death row. Since 1930, Eva Dugan is the only woman to be executed by the Grand Canyon State. One of the women currently on death row is Shawna Forde. Forde was sentenced to death for killing two people while acting as an "anti-immigration vigilante." The other woman is Wendi Andriano. Andriano was convicted of murdering her husband, according to AZCentral.

If Arias is sentenced the death penalty, she'll join Forde and Andriano on Arizona's death row.

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