SB16

By Senator Brewbaker

ENROLLED, An Act,

To amend Sections 13A-5-45, 13A-5-46, and 13A-5-47, Code of Alabama 1975, relating to capital cases and to the determination of the sentence by courts; to prohibit a court from overriding a jury verdict.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:

Section 1. Sections 13A-5-45, 13A-5-46, 13A-5-47, Code of Alabama 1975, are amended to read as follows:

13A-5-45.

"(a) Upon conviction of a defendant for a capital offense, the trial court shall conduct a separate sentence hearing to determine whether the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or to death. The sentence hearing shall be conducted as soon as practicable after the defendant is convicted. Provided, however, if the sentence hearing is to be conducted before the trial judge without a jury or before the trial judge and a jury other than the trial jury, as provided elsewhere in this article, the trial court with the consent of both parties may delay the sentence hearing until it has received the pre-sentence investigation report specified in Section 13A-5-47(b). Otherwise, the sentence hearing shall not be delayed pending receipt of the pre-sentence investigation report.

"(b) The state and the defendant shall be allowed to make opening statements and closing arguments at the sentence hearing. The order of those statements and arguments and the order of presentation of the evidence shall be the same as at trial.

"(c) At the sentence hearing evidence may be presented as to any matter that the court deems relevant to sentence and shall include any matters relating to the aggravating and mitigating circumstances referred to in Sections 13A-5-49, 13A-5-51, and 13A-5-52. Evidence presented at the trial of the case may be considered insofar as it is relevant to the aggravating and mitigating circumstances without the necessity of re-introducing that evidence at the sentence hearing, unless the sentence hearing is conducted before a jury other than the one before which the defendant was tried a trial judge other than the one before whom the defendant was tried or a jury other than the trial jury before which the defendant was tried.

"(d) Any evidence which has probative value and is relevant to sentence shall be received at the sentence hearing regardless of its admissibility under the exclusionary rules of evidence, provided that the defendant is accorded a fair opportunity to rebut any hearsay statements. This subsection shall not be construed to authorize the introduction of any evidence secured in violation of the Constitution of the United States or the State of Alabama.

"(e) At the sentence hearing the state shall have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of any aggravating circumstances. Provided, however, any aggravating circumstance which the verdict convicting the defendant establishes was proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial shall be considered as proven beyond a reasonable doubt for purposes of the sentence hearing.

"(f) Unless at least one aggravating circumstance as defined in Section 13A-5-49 exists, the sentence shall be life imprisonment without parole.

"(g) The defendant shall be allowed to offer any mitigating circumstance defined in Sections 13A-5-51 and 13A-5-52. When the factual existence of an offered mitigating circumstance is in dispute, the defendant shall have the burden of interjecting the issue, but once it is interjected the state shall have the burden of disproving the factual existence of that circumstance by a preponderance of the evidence.

13A-5-46.

"(a) Unless both parties with the consent of the court waive the right to have the sentence hearing conducted before a jury as provided in Section 13A-5-44(c), it shall be conducted before a jury which shall return an advisory a verdict as provided by subsection (e) of this section. If both parties with the consent of the court waive the right to have the hearing conducted before a jury, the trial judge shall proceed to determine sentence without an advisory a verdict from a jury. Otherwise, the hearing shall be conducted before a jury as provided in the remaining subsections of this section.

"(b) If the defendant was tried and convicted by a jury, the sentence hearing shall be conducted before that same jury unless it is impossible or impracticable to do so. If it is impossible or impracticable for the trial jury to sit at the sentence hearing, or if the case on appeal is remanded for a new sentence hearing before a jury, a new jury shall be impanelled to sit at the sentence hearing. The selection of that jury shall be according to the laws and rules governing the selection of a jury for the trial of a capital case.

"(c) The separation of the jury during the pendency of the sentence hearing, and if the sentence hearing is before the same jury which convicted the defendant, the separation of the jury during the time between the guilty verdict and the beginning of the sentence hearing, shall be governed by the law and court rules applicable to the separation of the jury during the trial of a capital case.

"(d) After hearing the evidence and the arguments of both parties at the sentence hearing, the jury shall be instructed on its function and on the relevant law by the trial judge. The jury shall then retire to deliberate concerning the advisory verdict it is to return.

"(e) After deliberation, the jury shall return an advisory a verdict as follows:
"(1) If the jury determines that no aggravating circumstances as defined in Section 13A-5-49 exist, it shall return an advisory verdict recommending to the trial court that the penalty be a verdict of life imprisonment without parole;
"(2) If the jury determines that one or more aggravating circumstances as defined in Section 13A-5-49 exist but do not outweigh the mitigating circumstances, it shall return an advisory verdict recommending to the trial court that the penalty be a verdict of life imprisonment without parole;
"(3) If the jury determines that one or more aggravating circumstances as defined in Section 13A-5-49 exist and that they outweigh the mitigating circumstances, if any, it shall return an advisory verdict recommending to the trial court that the penalty be a verdict of death.

"(f) The decision of the jury to return an advisory a verdict recommending a sentence of life imprisonment without parole must be based on a vote of a majority of the jurors. The decision of the jury to recommend a sentence of death must be based on a vote of at least 10 jurors. The verdict of the jury must be in writing and must specify the vote.

"(g) If the jury is unable to reach an advisory a verdict recommending a sentence, or for other manifest necessity, the trial court may declare a mistrial of the sentence hearing. Such a mistrial shall not affect the conviction. After such a mistrial or mistrials another sentence hearing shall be conducted before another jury, selected according to the laws and rules governing the selection of a jury for the trial of a capital case. Provided, however, that, subject to the provisions of Section 13A-5-44(c), after one or more mistrials both parties with the consent of the court may waive the right to have an advisory a verdict from a jury, in which event the issue of sentence shall be submitted to the trial court without a recommendation from a jury.

13A-5-47.

"(a) After the sentence hearing has been conducted, and after the jury has returned an advisory a verdict, or after such a verdict has been waived as provided in Section 13A-5-46(a) or Section 13A-5-46(g), the trial court shall proceed to determine the impose sentence. Where the jury has returned a verdict of death, the court shall sentence the defendant to death. Where a sentence of death is not returned by the jury, the court shall sentence the defendant to life imprisonment without parole. This code section shall not affect a trial court's power to sentence in accordance with a guilty plea.

"(b) Before making the sentence determination, the trial court shall order and receive a written pre-sentence investigation report. The report shall contain the information prescribed by law or court rule for felony cases generally and any additional information specified by the trial court. No part of the report shall be kept confidential, and the parties shall have the right to respond to it and to present evidence to the court about any part of the report which is the subject of factual dispute. The report and any evidence submitted in connection with it shall be made part of the record in the case.

"(c) Before (b) Where the sentencing jury is waived pursuant to Section 13A-5-44 and before imposing sentence the trial court shall permit the parties to present arguments concerning the existence of aggravating and mitigating circumstances and the proper sentence to be imposed in the case. The order of the arguments shall be the same as at the trial of a case. The trial court, based upon evidence presented at trial and the evidence presented during the sentence hearing and any evidence submitted in connection with it, shall enter specific written findings concerning the existence or nonexistence of each aggravating circumstance enumerated in Section 13A-5-49, each mitigating circumstance enumerated in Section 13A-5-51, and any additional mitigating circumstances offered pursuant to Section 13A-5-52. The trial court shall also enter written findings of facts summarizing the crime and the defendant's participation in it. In deciding upon the sentence, the trial court shall determine whether the aggravating circumstances it finds to exist outweigh the mitigating circumstances it finds to exist.

"(d) Based upon the evidence presented at trial, the evidence presented during the sentence hearing, and the pre-sentence investigation report and any evidence submitted in connection with it, the trial court shall enter specific written findings concerning the existence or nonexistence of each aggravating circumstance enumerated in Section 13A-5-49, each mitigating circumstance enumerated in Section 13A-5-51, and any additional mitigating circumstances offered pursuant to Section 13A-5-52. The trial court shall also enter written findings of facts summarizing the crime and the defendant's participation in it.

"(e) In deciding upon the sentence, the trial court shall determine whether the aggravating circumstances it finds to exist outweigh the mitigating circumstances it finds to exist, and in doing so the trial court shall consider the recommendation of the jury contained in its advisory verdict, unless such a verdict has been waived pursuant to Section 13A-5-46(a) or 13A-5-46(g). While the jury's recommendation concerning sentence shall be given consideration, it is not binding upon the court."

Section 2. This act shall apply to any defendant who is charged with capital murder after the effective date of this act and shall not apply retroactively to any defendant who has previously been convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death prior to the effective date of this act.

Section 3. This act shall become effective immediately following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.


Criminal Law and Procedure
Death Penalty
Capital Punishment
Crimes and Offenses
Prisons and Prisoners
Sentencing
Juries and Jurors
Courts
Code Amended