Section 1-3-4 of the Mississippi Code of 1972 reads as follows:The terms "capital case," "capital cases," "capital offense," "capital offenses," and "capital crime" when used in any statute shall denote criminal cases, offenses and crimes punishable by death or imprisonment for life in the state penitentiary. The term "capital murder" when used in any statute shall denote criminal cases, offenses and crimes punishable by death, or imprisonment for life.
Capital Crimes are crimes for which the defendant may face life imprisonment or death penalty if found guilty. Capital Punishment has long been a very divisive issue. In fact, many states do not impose the death penalty in capital murder cases, believing it to be a form of cruel and unusual punishment.
In Mississippi, a defendant may be found guilty of capital murder, and thus sentenced to the death penalty, if:
a) he or she murders a “peace officer,” such as a police officer, a sheriff, a judge, or any other law enforcement officer, or a fireman;
b) he or she murders another while serving time for life imprisonment;
c) he or she murders another by detonating a bomb or other explosive device;
d) the murder results from a murder-for-hire contract;
e) he or she murders another during the commission of one of the enumerated felonies (rape, burglary, kidnapping, arson, robbery, sexual battery, intercourse with any child under the age of 12; or even the attempt to commit any of these felonies);
f) death occurs during the commission of felony child abuse or battery;
g) he or she murders another on educational property; or
h) he or she murders a known elected official.
Accordingly, a defendant convicted of capital murder may be sentenced 1) to death, 2) to life imprisonment without parole, or 3) to life imprisonment with the opportunity for parole.
Capital Punishment cases are extremely complex. Due to the severity of the penalties, the State ensures that defendants in capital murder cases have the proper avenues to appeal their convictions. Therefore, capital punishment cases involve four separate phases for judicial review:
1) the sentencing phase,
2) direct review,
3) state collateral review, and
4) federal habeas corpus proceedings.
The legal system provides several opportunities for defendants convicted of capital murder to appeal their convictions and present mitigating factors to reduce their sentences from capital punishment to life imprisonment, with or without parole.
Although Capital Murder cases are extremely complex, the attorneys at Coxwell & Associates have the knowledge and experience to provide our clients with quality criminal defense representation. Merrida Coxwell has worked on numerous capital cases over his career. At Coxwell & Associates, our attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that our clients receive the best representation possible. Our attorneys have a reputation across the state for providing excellent and aggressive representation in criminal defense cases. Contact our skilled and experienced criminal defense attorneys today.