In a death penalty case, conviction is not the end of the process. Defendants who are sentenced to death in Nevada will generally go through multiple stages of appeal in order to try to get the sentence of death overturned. The process of exhausting all possible appeals often takes years, and defendants should have a skilled Las Vegas defense lawyer to provide them with guidance and representation as they try to prevent execution of a judgment of death.
Nevada law provides details on the process of appeals in death penalty cases, including when a stay of execution can be issued pending an appeal. If a stay of execution is granted by the court, the execution of the death sentence judgement is suspended temporarily. If appeals are denied, Nevada law also provides details on dissolving the stay and imposes limitations on which courts have further authority to grant a new stay under particular circumstances.
Attorney Nicholas Wooldridge understands all of the complex state and federal rules applicable in death penalty cases and we can help you to understand what to expect when appealing a conviction and trying for a stay of execution. Give us a call today to find out more.
N.R.S. 176.491 sets forth rules for a stay of execution following denial of appeal. According to the relevant code section, when an appeal is denied by an appellate court in a competent jurisdiction with authority under the Nevada Supreme Court, the appellate court has to dissolve any stay of execution which had been entered previously. Courts commonly stay an execution pending the outcome of the appeal, so the appellate court would vacate this stay and the process of carrying out the judgment of death could move forward.
The statute also makes clear that no stay of execution can be entered or continued in the appellate court after a denied appeal pending a petition being filed with the federal court for appeal or a writ of certiorari being filed with the Supreme Court. Essentially, this means the appellate court who has denied a defendant’s appeal cannot continue a stay just because there are pending actions on the federal level.
In order for a defendant to have his execution stayed pending an appeal with the federal court, the defendant would have to apply for a stay in the federal court which the defendant is appealing to. The defendant can file a writ of habeas corpus to ask the federal court to consider whether there were any defects in the state court proceedings that constituted a constitutional violation. The defendant can also submit a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, which essentially means asking the Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court has a choice on whether to hear cases or not.
It has been a decade since the last execution in Nevada, but this does not mean that executions won’t happen in the future- especially with more than 80 people already on death row. Any defendant who is facing the risk of death needs to make certain that he or she understands all of the different options for appealing a sentence in order to try to make sure an execution never occurs.
LV Criminal Defense provides help to defendants who are accused of capital crimes. Our goal is to make sure you have the best chance of avoiding conviction, avoiding the death penalty, or having the conviction overturned on appeal. Give us a call today to find out more about how we can help.