Few legal topics are as controversial as capital punishment. Death penalty opponents seeking to reform or abolish it and law-and-order advocates maintaining its deterrent and punishment value have battled each other for centuries now. While polls show that a majority of Americans support capital punishment, there’s been a recent trend to abolish the death penalty in some states.
Currently, thirty-two states have capital punishment and eighteen states have abolished it. There federal government has the death penalty as well. Here’s a summary of Vermont’s capital punishment laws, including some background on how Vermont abolished the death penalty.
Vermont Has Abolished Its Death Penalty
Vermont doesn't have the death penalty. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Furman v. Georgia. The Court held that a majority of state capital punishment laws were unconstitutional due to the arbitrary manner in which death sentences were imposed. Most states later amended their laws to conform to the Supreme Court’s requirements, but Vermont wasn’t one of them. The state last performed an execution in 1954 and is not considered to be a death penalty state.
There’s an important exception, however. While Vermont doesn’t use the death penalty, the federal government still does. And federal death penalty laws permit capital punishment for murder, espionage, and treason. Vermont residents convicted of these crimes can still face the death penalty. This lesson in federalism has recently come to life with the re-trial of Donald Fell in Vermont federal court.
|Code Sections||Vt. Stat. Ann. Tit. 13, § 7101, et seq.|
|Is Capital Punishment Allowed?||No. Vermont’s capital punishment statutes were invalidated by Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972). The state has never amended its capital punishment laws to conform to constitutional requirements.|
|Effect of Defendant’s Incapacity||-|
|Available for Crimes Other Than Homicide?||-|
|Definition of Capital Homicide||-|
|Method of Execution||Electrocution.|
Note: Capital punishment laws change relatively frequently due to shifts in public opinion and values. Although we strive to keep our information up to day, you should either do some additional research or speak with an attorney who specializes in criminal law, specifically capital cases, in order to ensure that your legal information is accurate.
Related Resources For Capital Punishment Laws
You can more information about state capital punishment laws on these pages. Advocacy groups and government agencies also offer additional resources. For specific questions and more specialized information, you can speak with a Vermont criminal defense lawyer.
Contact a qualified attorney.