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Suspensions of Execution of Death Penalty

Las Vegas Criminal Defense Lawyer Explains Stays of Execution – N.R.S. 176.415

Suspensions of Execution of Death PenaltyWhen a defendant is sentenced to death for a capital offense, the Nevada rules of criminal procedure specify what happens next. There are strict requirements for how the sentence of death is executed or carried out. For example, a warrant has to be attached to the judgment and the date of execution must be specified. The date has to be between 60 and 90 days from the time of the judgment.

While the laws make clear when and how a defendant can be executed in Nevada, the reality is that no one has been executed in the state since 2006, although more than 80 people are currently on death row and people continue to be sentenced to death. Because the death penalty is still a possible outcome in serious criminal cases, defendants need to know their rights. They must understand how the death penalty process works and, perhaps most importantly, must understand when a suspension of execution of the death penalty is possible. A suspension is a stay of execution which allows for a delay until some future time.

Nick Wooldridge has experience in death penalty cases and we understand what is involved in fighting to save the life of a defendant who has been accused of committing a serious crime. If you have been charged with or convicted of an offense for which the death penalty is a possible penalty, you need to get legal help right away. Call LV Criminal Defense today to speak with a member of our legal team to learn exactly what to expect as your sentence is carried out and to find out how you can try to get a stay of execution.

When is Suspension of Execution of Death Penalty Possible?

There is an entire subsection within the Nevada rules on executing and carrying out sentences which relates to situations in which the execution of a death sentence will be suspended. The relevant laws address many different situations in which an execution will be stayed or delayed, including in situations where the defendant is pregnant or the defendant is not classified as mentally sane.

N.R.S. 176.415 is the first of the Nevada laws which outlines situations when a death sentence will be stayed. According to the relevant code section, the execution of death will be stayed only when:

  • The State Board of Pardons Commissions acts with its authority under the scope of Section 14 of Article 5 of the Nevada State Constitution and stays the execution.
  • The Nevada Governor grants a reprieve under the authority of Section 13 of Article 5 of the Nevada State Constitution.
  • The defendant has made a direct appeal from the judgment of conviction and the case is taken to an appellate court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to Supreme Court rules set under Section 4 of Article 6 of the state constitution.
  • A judge located in the county where the state prison is situated orders a stay for purposes of determining if the defendant is pregnant or for purposes of determining if the defendant is insane.

When a stay of execution is issued, the defendant gets time to try to get the sentence of death overturned or benefits from a decision which spares his or her life either temporarily or permanently. If you are facing the potential for the state to end your life, you need to make sure you are represented by a lawyer who knows the procedure for trying to help you get a stay of execution.

Sanity Investigations

Nevada law has extensive details on what happens when someone who has been sentenced to death is either pregnant or is found to be insane. The district court can stay an execution in order for an examination to be conducted to determine if the defendant fits into either of these two categories. The court usually takes this action and/or otherwise orders an investigation into sanity or pregnancy at the request of the Director of the Department of Corrections.

If the Director of the Department has reason to believe the defendant is pregnant or insane, the director can submit a written petition to the district court. The Director should include verification from a physician. When the Director has petitioned the court in writing, the court will set a date for a hearing to take place in which sanity or pregnancy is determined. If the petition is based on insanity, the court will also appoint two physicians- including either a psychiatrist and psychologist; two psychologists; or two psychiatrists- to examine the defendant and to prepare a report.

At the hearing, the court will review the evidence from the psychiatrist(s) and other medical professionals in order to make an assessment on whether to move forward with the execution or not. If the defendant is found to be sane and not pregnant, then execution of the judgment can move forward.

Getting Help from a Las Vegas Criminal Defense Attorney

In Nevada, there hasn’t been a person executed since 2006. Still, Nevada has more than 80 people currently on death row who have been sentenced to death, and the state still tries people for capital crimes. This means it is important for defendants who are facing a potential for the death penalty in their case to make certain they understand how best to respond in a high-stakes situation.

Convictions which result in the death penalty, or convictions for criminal charges with other serious consequences like life in prison, can be devastating. You want a knowledgeable advocate to provide legal representation for your interests and to make certain you are doing everything possible to try to avoid a severe sentence.

You should strongly consider reaching out to LV Criminal Defense, as we are a trusted Las Vegas criminal defense firm with the ability and skill to represent defendants in capital crime cases. To find out more about how we can help, give us a call now.

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