Is the Death Penalty Legal in Colorado?

Colorado still permits the death penalty to be imposed under very specific circumstances.  These involve particularly heinous crimes that are charged as Class 1 Felonies.  Colorado courts handle such cases very delicately, requiring a separate sentencing hearing where a jury will determine whether the death penalty is warranted.  This occurs only after a person has been convicted as guilty of an eligible crime.  Although, a possible consequence, it is unlikely as only 1 person has been executed due to the Colorado death penalty since 1977.

The Colorado Death Penalty Explained

The death penalty or capital punishment is the consequence for certain Class 1 Felony crimes that result in a convicted criminal’s death as retribution for the crime they committed.  Even if a person is convicted of a Class 1 Felony, that is eligible for the death penalty it does not mean the jury will choose this as the best course of action.  After the guilty person is convicted, they will have a second and separate sentencing hearing where a jury determines if their crimes warrant the minimum sentence of life imprisonment or the maximum sentence of capital punishment.

If a person is sentenced to the death penalty in Colorado, they will await the fulfillment of their sentence at the Colorado State Penitentiary.  Colorado inflicts the death penalty via lethal injection.

What Constitutes A Sentence of Capital Punishment in Colorado?

In order to be eligible for the Colorado death penalty, you will need to be convicted of a Class 1 Felony as a result of committing murder in the first degree, committing first degree murder of a peace officer or fireman, committing kidnapping in the first degree, committing treason, or committing child abuse that results in the death of child under the age of 12.

Under some circumstances, being convicted of one of the listed crimes cannot result in the Colorado death penalty.  For example, those under the age of 18 are not eligible to receive the death penalty, even if they committed an eligible crime.  The same applies to those who are found to be mentally incompetent.

Is the Death Penalty Immediate?

The death penalty sentence does not dictate how long until the punishment is carried out.  Typically, those sentenced to the death penalty will spend years on death row and it may never come to fruition some cases.  It is typical for those facing the death penalty to attempt an appeal.  This process is lengthy dragging out the death row process.  In some cases, the convicted person is successful, and they are able to have their sentence lessened to life in prison or reversed altogether.

With such serious consequences on the table, if you or someone you know is facing charges for a Class 1 Felony that is eligible for Colorado capital punishment, it will be imperative to seek legal counsel.  With your very life at stake, you cannot leave the outcome of your case to chance!

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About the Author: Alex Fisher