Crimes Punishable by the Death Penalty

Summary of States' Death Penalty Statutes - From Bureau of Justice Statistics

Death Penalty for Offenses Other Than Murder - State and Federal Laws that allow Capital Punishment when no death has occurred

DPIC's Page on Kennedy v. Louisiana - Striking down the death penalty for non-homicide offenses against individuals

Those Executed Who Did Not Directly Kill the Victim

Aggravating Factors by State - Lists of the factors that could make a defendant eligible for the Death Penalty

Mitigating Factors by State - List of the various state statutes defining mitigating circumstances for their respective jurisdictions -from Terry Lenamon.  See also J. Kirchmeier, "A Tear in Eye of the Law: Mitigating Factors and the Progression Toward a Disease Theory of Criminal Justice," 83 Oregon L. Rev. 631 (2004) (available http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=914180).

State by State Information - Database of State Death Penalty information

Federal Mitigating and Aggravating Factors - Federal Death Penalty statutes mitigating and aggravating factors

Federal Death Penalty - Federal Laws Providing for the Death Penalty

News and Developments - Current Year

News and Developments - Previous Years

2015 2014 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006


The Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment 2012, (pub. May 2014) lists the following as capital crimes, by state:


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

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.

California - First-degree murder with special circumstances; sabotage; train wrecking causing death; treason; perjury causing 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).

Florida - First-degree murder; felony murder; capital drug trafficking; capital sexual battery.

[The U.S. Supreme Court declared Florida's capital sentencing statute unconstitutional in January 2016 in Hurst v. Florida. However, the portions of the statute defining capital murder and aggravating circumstances were unaffected by that ruling. 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; kidnapping with bodily injury or ransom when the victim dies; aircraft hijacking; treason.

Idaho - First-degree murder with aggravating factors; first-degree kidnapping; perjury resulting in the execution of an innocent person.

Illinois - [Abolished the death penalty in 2011]

Indiana - Murder with 16 aggravating circumstances (IC 35-50-2-9).

Kansas - Capital murder with 8 aggravating circumstances (KSA 21-3439, KSA 21-4625, KSA 21-4636).

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

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

Maryland - [Abolished the death penalty in 2013]

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

Missouri - First-degree murder (565.020 RSMO 2000).

Montana - Capital murder with 1 of 9 aggravating circumstances (Mont. Code Ann. § 46-18-303); aggravated kidnapping; felony murder; aggravated sexual intercourse without consent (Mont. Code Ann. § 45-5-503).

Nebraska - [Abolished the death penalty in 2015]; formerly, First-degree murder with a finding of at least 1 statutorily-defined aggravating circumstance.

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 burglary; killing of a police officer, judge or prosecutor; murder for hire; murder by an inmate while serving a sentence of life without parole (RSA 630:1, RSA 630:5).

New Mexico - [abolished the death penalty in 2009]

New York* - [New York abolished the death penalty in 2007]

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. secs. 2903.01, 2929.02, and 2929.04).

Oklahoma - First-degree murder in conjunction with a finding of at least 1 of 8 statutorily-defined aggravating circumstances.

Oregon - Aggravated murder (ORS 163.095).

Pennsylvania - First-degree murder with 18 aggravating circumstances.

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.

Tennessee - First-degree murder (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202) with 1 of 16 aggravating circumstances (Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-204).

Texas - Criminal homicide with 1 of 9 aggravating circumstances (Tex. Penal Code § 19.03).

Utah - Aggravated murder (76-5-202, Utah Code Annotated).

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

Washington - Aggravated first-degree murder.

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 York Court of Appeals held that a portion of New York’s death penalty sentencing statute (CPL 400.27) was unconstitutional (see People v. Taylor, 9 N.Y.3d 129 (2007) (applying ruling to remaining inmates on death row). The legislature has rejected efforts to revise the statute and restore the death penalty.