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Pennsylvania Capital Punishment Laws

Capital punishment, more commonly referred to as the "death penalty," is reserved for the most serious murder charges. It's a polarizing legal issue with a long and controversial history. Each state makes its own laws concerning the sentence.

Most states, including Pennsyvlania, allow capital punishment for the most serious crimes. Pennsylvania uses lethal injection for its executions but an inmate can request electrocution.

The basics of capital punishment laws in Pennsylvania are highlighted in the table below. See FindLaw's Death Penalty section for more related articles.

Code Section Tit. 18 §1102; Tit. 42 §9711; Tit. 61 §3004
Is Capital Punishment Allowed? Yes
Effect of Defendant's Incapacity -
Minimum Age No minimum age
Available for Crimes Other than Homicide? None
Definition of Capital Homicide Murder of fireman, peace officer, public servant killed in performance of duties; victim was a judge of any court in unified judicial system, attorney general of Pennsylvania, deputy attorney general, district attorney/assistant district attorney, member of a general assembly, governor, lieutenant governor, auditor general, state treasurer, state law enforcement official, local law enforcement official, federal law enforcement official or person employed to assist or assisting any law enforcement official in performance of his/her duties; in defendant paid or was paid to perform the murder; the victim was a hostage being held for ransom; during an aircraft hijacking; victim was prosecution witness to prevent testimony; during perpetration of a felony; knowingly created grave risk of death to another in addition to victim; torture; significant history of felony convictions involving use/threat of violence; previous life sentence or death; defendant convicted of voluntary manslaughter either before or at time of killing; defendant committed the killing or was accomplice in killing; committed during perpetration of a felony under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device & Cosmetic Act; victim was or had been in competition with defendant in the sale, manufacture, distribution or delivery of any controlled substance, counterfeit controlled substance, etc.; victim was under 12; victim was known to defendant to be in her third trimester of pregnancy; at the time of killing, victim was or had been a non-governmental informant; defendant was under court order restricting defendant's behavior toward the victim
Method of Execution Lethal injection

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

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