This Act revises Delaware's death penalty statute to ensure its compliance with the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court in Hurst v. Florida, and by the Delaware Supreme Court in Rauf v. State. In accordance with these cases, this Act requires that before a death sentence can be imposed, a jury, unless waived by the defendant, must first unanimously determine all of the following:
(1) That at least 1 aggravating circumstance exists.
(2) Which, if any, statutory and non-statutory aggravating circumstances alleged by the State exist.
(3) Whether all of the aggravating circumstances found to exist outweigh all of the mitigating circumstances found to exist.
This Act requires that the jury or Court determining the appropriate sentence must make the required findings beyond all doubt. This heightened standard is greater than the usual criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. The beyond all doubt standard recognizes that even after finding the defendant guilty of first-degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt it is possible that a juror or the Court may still harbor residual or lingering doubt as to the defendant’s guilt and that the existence of such doubt, whether held individually or collectively by a jury, or by a Court, is sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death penalty.
This Act revises Delaware's death penalty statute to comply with the United States Supreme Court's holding in Hall v. Florida, interpreting standards set forth in Atkins v. Virginia. This Act adopts the term "intellectual disability" used by the United States Supreme Court.
This Act recognizes developing trends in death penalty jurisprudence and the American Bar Association's Resolution 122A (2006), of August 8, 2006, by prohibiting the imposition of the death penalty upon a person who has been found "guilty, but mentally ill", as defined by § 401 of Title 11 of the Delaware Code.
This Act narrows the scope of some of the most commonly used statutory aggravating circumstances - those applicable in cases involving defendants with previous convictions for violent felonies and murders committed during the commission of other enumerated felonies. Several other statutory aggravating circumstances have been combined to eliminate duplication, eliminated entirely, or otherwise clarified.
This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.Statutes affected:
Original Text: 11.4209