A Vegas Defense Lawyer Explains Insanity & The Death Penalty
In Nevada, someone who is found guilty of a capital crime can be given the death penalty. However, the state of Nevada- and other states throughout the country- will not execute someone who is insane. If a person was sane enough to be sentenced to death, this does not mean he will continue to be sane enough to actually be executed. If the sanity of someone on death row is in question, there is a procedure to follow in order to determine if the execution should be delayed until such time as the defendant becomes sane.
Criminal lawyers at LV Criminal Defense provide representation in cases where the sanity of a death row defendant is questioned. We also provide assistance in appealing a death sentence or trying to get an execution stayed. When you need an attorney with the knowledge and skill to handle any legal issues that arise in death penalty cases, we are here for you. Give us a call today to speak with a Las Vegas defense lawyer who can help.
Insanity After a Death Sentence
In some situations, concerns arise over the sanity of a person who has been sentenced to death. If these concerns arise, the Director of the Department of Corrections who the convicted person was delivered to for execution can submit a written petition to the district court in the county where the state prison is located. The written petition must include supporting information, including statements by physicians, which provide details on why the defendant’s sanity is in question.
Upon receiving a petition questioning the sanity of someone on death row, the court has to schedule a hearing to determine if the person is insane. Notice of the hearing has to be provided immediately to the Attorney General and the District Attorney in the county where the defendant had been convicted of committing the capital crime. Two physicians have to be appointed- both of whom must be either psychiatrists or psychologists, so these physicians can conduct an assessment of the defendant’s sanity.
On the date of the hearing, the physicians will present a report to the court. The defendant has to come to court, and others can also attend as well, including the district attorney for the county where the defendant was convicted, the Attorney General or the AG’s deputy, and a lawyer for the defendant. Witnesses may be cross-examined during this hearing. If necessary, the court can also make a request for additional evidence which is necessary to determine if the defendant is insane or not. If the execution is scheduled to take place before the hearing on sanity, the court can order a stay of the execution until a determination is made regarding the defendant’s mental state.
Once the court has listened to all evidence presented, a decision will be made on whether the defendant is insane or not. If the defendant is insane, the execution is stayed until the defendant becomes sane again- at which time the stay of execution will be vacated and a new death warrant can be issued. If the defendant is sane, a new death warrant can be issued to fix a date for execution.
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Getting Help with Capital Crimes in Nevada
It has been a decade since anyone was executed in Nevada, but this does not mean there won’t be further executions. There are already more than 80 people in Nevada on death row who have been sentenced to be executed, and there continue to be capital crimes allegedly committed.
If you have been accused of a crime that could result in the death penalty or if you have already been sentenced to die, you need a skilled and capable lawyer to help you. Contact LV Criminal Defense today to schedule a consultation and learn about how our Las Vegas defense firm can help you to fight for your life.