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Missouri Capital Punishment Laws

Capital punishment, or the death penalty, was legalized at the federal level by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 (Gregg v. Georgia) after having been temporarily suspended since 1972. Most states, including Missouri, use capital punishment but only for particularly heinous crimes involving murder. But the exoneration of several death row inmates through DNA evidence and concerns over lethal injection drugs have prompted some states to institute moratoriums or bans on the practice.

Missouri capital punishment laws restrict the sentence to those 16 and older who have committed a capital homicide. In Missouri, a capital homicide includes one committed by an individual with a prior conviction for first-degree murder; committed while attempting to escape arrest; or committed while engaged in another felony offense, to give a few examples. The state also has the authority to sentence a convict to death if a murder was "part of a pattern of criminal street gang activity."

Missouri is one of only six states that uses the gas chamber for executions, but only if the inmate chooses this method (or if lethal injection cannot be administered for some reason). As with most other states that have use capital punishment, Missouri's primary method is through lethal injection.

Learn more about Missouri capital punishment laws below. See FindLaw's Death Penalty section for additional articles and resources.

Code Section 546.720; 552.060; 565.020; 565.032; 562.051; 576.070; 195.214
Is Capital Punishment Allowed? Yes
Effect of Defendant's Incapacity Sentence is suspended until certified as free of mental disease or defect
Minimum Age 16
Available for Crimes Other than Homicide? None
Definition of Capital Homicide Murder committed by one with prior conviction for murder in 1st degree or multiple assaultive convictions; while committing or attempting to commit another homicide; knowingly created great risk of death to more than 1 person; for monetary value; victim was judicial or former judicial officer, present or former prosecuting attorney or assistant prosecuting attorney, assistant circuit attorney, peace officer, elected official during or because of the exercise of official business/duty; for hire; outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman; while escaping, avoiding, or awaiting arrest; engaged in rape, sodomy, burglary, robbery, kidnapping or any felony offense; victim was witness or potential witness; victim was employee of correctional system in course of duty; victim was an inmate of correctional facility/institution; hijacking; to conceal or prevent prosecution of a felony offense; to prevent victim from initiating/aiding prosecution; murder was commission of a crime which is part of a pattern of criminal street gang activity
Method of Execution Lethal gas or lethal injection

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Missouri criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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