Summary: S.277 — 100th Congress (1987-1988)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.277. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in Senate (01/06/1987)

Amends the Federal criminal code to establish criteria for the imposition of the death penalty for Federal crimes.

Requires the Government, for any offense punishable by death, to serve notice upon the defendant a reasonable time before trial or acceptance of a plea, that it intends to seek the death penalty and the aggravating factors upon which it will rely.

Requires a separate sentencing hearing before a jury, or the court upon motion by the defendant, when the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty to an offense punishable by death.

Allows the defendant and the Government to present any information relevant to sentencing, without regard to the rules of evidence, but permits information to be excluded where its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading of the jury.

Specifies mitigating factors which the defendant must establish by a preponderance of the information and aggravating factors which the Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Includes as threshold aggravating factors for homicide that the defendant: (1) intentionally killed the victim; (2) intentionally inflicted serious bodily injury which resulted in death of the victim; (3) intentionally participated in an act, contemplating that the life of a person would be taken and the victim died as a direct result of the act; or (4) attempted to kill the President of the United States.

Sets forth special aggravating factors with respect to the crimes of treason, espionage, homicide, and attempted murder of the President.

States that no person under the age of 18 may be sentenced to death.

Directs the court, or the jury by unanimous vote, to impose the death penalty upon a finding that such sentence is justified based on consideration of both the aggravating and mitigating factors.

Requires the court to instruct the jury not to consider the race, color, national origin, creed, or sex of the defendant in its consideration of the sentence.

Establishes procedures for appeal from a death sentence. Requires the Court of Appeals, upon considering the record and the information and procedures of the sentencing hearing, to affirm the decision if: (1) the sentence was not imposed under influence of passion, prejudice, or arbitrariness; and (2) the information supports the finding of aggravating factors. Requires the court to provide a written explanation of its determination.

Limits the circumstances under which the offense of delivering defense information to aid foreign governments is punishable by death.

Provides for the imposition of the death penalty for: (1) murders committed by prisoners in Federal correctional institutions; (2) kidnappings which result in the death of any person; (3) attempting to kill the President of the United States (if such attempt results in bodily injury or comes dangerously close to causing the President's death); (4) "murder for hire"; (5) murder in the aid of a racketeering activity; and (6) engaging in a criminal enterprise activity which results in death. Eliminates the death penalty for the crime of rape.