In Nevada, the death penalty is still on the books and there are cases where defendants are sentenced to death, including more than 80 people who are on death row currently. Although it has been around a decade since the date of the last execution which was carried out, situations in which defendants are faced with the death penalty still cannot be taken lightly. Having an experienced Las Vegas defense attorney representing you is important, so give LV Criminal Defense a call as soon as you’re under investigation for a capital crime.
Death penalty cases are among the most complicated in the criminal justice system, and your rights do not actually end with conviction. You may be able to appeal a death sentence to successfully have the judgment overturned. You have multiple options for appeal, and you need to know what to expect. If the date of execution comes and appeals are still pending, a stay of execution may also be appropriate. Nevada has detailed laws on both when a stay will be granted and on when a stay will be vacated. Knowing these rules is essential if you have been convicted of a death penalty offense.
There is a section of Nevada’s criminal procedure code on post-conviction relief which is available to defendants who have been sentenced to death. Defendants can make direct appeals after sentencing, and can also submit a habeas corpus petition to raise the issue of defects during prior proceedings which affect constitutional rights.
When an appeal is pending or a habeas corpus petition is pending, the district court, appeals court, or Supreme Court of Nevada with jurisdiction over the case can issue a stay of execution. This suspends the execution of the judgment and nothing moves forward on the execution as long as the stay of execution remains in effect
In most situations, there does, however, come a time when the stay will no longer be in effect. N.R.S. 176.489 specifies the rules for a vacation of stay of execution. According to this code section, a stay of execution which was previously entered by the court in order to allow a defendant to seek post-conviction relief must be vacated if the petition for habeas corpus is denied.
If a stay of execution is vacated, this written order has to be delivered to the appropriate parties, including to the court where the judgment of death was rendered if the time limit for the execution has passed. The court can enter a new warrant and set a new date for execution of the judgment.
Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.
Nevada currently is experiencing difficulty obtaining the drugs necessary for lethal injection, which is the only acceptable and lawful method of putting someone to death for a capital crime in the state. There are also issues regarding where any executions which would occur are to take place, as there is currently no available location where an execution could occur in accordance with legal requirements.
Conditions are such that the chances of actually being executed right now are not high, even if there is no stay of execution in place and if there are no more appeals you can raise. Still, you want to try to argue for post-conviction relief and try to secure a stay of execution because you never know what the future will bring. You cannot be too careful when the state is trying to take your life.
LV Criminal Defense can provide invaluable help with all aspects of defenses in capital crimes, as well as with seeking post-conviction relief. We have the knowledge and skill to offer you the advocacy you need in these high-stakes cases, so give us a call as soon as possible to find out more about the ways in which a Las Vegas defense lawyer can help.