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A History of the Death Penalty in California

Posted By Blumenthal Law Offices || 7-Mar-2016

Capital punishment, or the death penalty, is a legal sentencing option in the state of California. Since the state’s first recorded death sentence in 1778, 722 executions have taken place. More than 700 inmates currently serving time on death row, though executions are currently on hold due to pending litigation.

Methods of Execution in California

Capital punishment has been carried out via several methods over the years. Hangings were initially used as the primary method of execution until being replaced by lethal gas in 1937. This method would continue until the introduction of death by lethal injection in 1992, with death by gas later being declared unconstitutional in 1994. Lethal injection is now the only method of execution in California, though even this method is under fire due to its possibility of causing an inmate to suffer if administered improperly.

Controversy Surrounding Constitutionality

The death penalty has had a long history of debate regarding its constitutionality and has been declared unconstitutional several times, only to be reinstated with appeals. The death penalty was originally declared unconstitutional in 1972 by the California Supreme Court as being in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Subsequent legislature in 1977 re-enacted the death penalty as a possible punishment for first degree murder under certain conditions, such as murder for financial gain, murder of a peace officer, murder of multiple victims, or murder with torture.

Currently, lethal injections are on hold in California due to ongoing litigation. Several court cases have debated this topic for nearly a decade, with the last state execution having occurred in 2006. In 2015, the Sacramento County Superior Court ruled that state law requires the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to devise a way to execute inmates by lethal injection. As a result of this ruling, a new single-drug method is currently in development that supposedly is more effective and humane than the previous three-drug concoction. Executions could resume in 2016, though this is uncertain.

Despite the continued controversy surrounding the death penalty, it remains a valid sentence in California for crimes such as treason, perjury resulting in an innocent person’s execution, and certain forms of murder. If you have been accused of any of the above offenses, it is imperative you retain the services of a powerful attorney to protect your future and life.

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At Blumenthal Law Offices, our hard-hitting Riverside criminal defense lawyers can provide the aggressive representation you need to maximize your chances of securing a desirable outcome for your situation. With more than a century of combined legal experience, your case is sure to be in excellent hands.

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