2006 Ohio Revised Code - 2929.04. Criteria for imposing death or imprisonment for a capital offense.

§ 2929.04. Criteria for imposing death or imprisonment for a capital offense.
 

(A)  Imposition of the death penalty for aggravated murder is precluded unless one or more of the following is specified in the indictment or count in the indictment pursuant to section 2941.14 of the Revised Code and proved beyond a reasonable doubt: 

(1) The offense was the assassination of the president of the United States or a person in line of succession to the presidency, the governor or lieutenant governor of this state, the president-elect or vice president-elect of the United States, the governor-elect or lieutenant governor-elect of this state, or a candidate for any of the offices described in this division. For purposes of this division, a person is a candidate if the person has been nominated for election according to law, if the person has filed a petition or petitions according to law to have the person's name placed on the ballot in a primary or general election, or if the person campaigns as a write-in candidate in a primary or general election. 

(2) The offense was committed for hire. 

(3) The offense was committed for the purpose of escaping detection, apprehension, trial, or punishment for another offense committed by the offender. 

(4) The offense was committed while the offender was under detention or while the offender was at large after having broken detention. As used in division (A)(4) of this section, "detention" has the same meaning as in section 2921.01 of the Revised Code, except that detention does not include hospitalization, institutionalization, or confinement in a mental health facility or mental retardation and developmentally disabled facility unless at the time of the commission of the offense either of the following circumstances apply: 

(a) The offender was in the facility as a result of being charged with a violation of a section of the Revised Code. 

(b) The offender was under detention as a result of being convicted of or pleading guilty to a violation of a section of the Revised Code. 

(5) Prior to the offense at bar, the offender was convicted of an offense an essential element of which was the purposeful killing of or attempt to kill another, or the offense at bar was part of a course of conduct involving the purposeful killing of or attempt to kill two or more persons by the offender. 

(6) The victim of the offense was a law enforcement officer, as defined in section 2911.01 of the Revised Code, whom the offender had reasonable cause to know or knew to be a law enforcement officer as so defined, and either the victim, at the time of the commission of the offense, was engaged in the victim's duties, or it was the offender's specific purpose to kill a law enforcement officer as so defined. 

(7) The offense was committed while the offender was committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing immediately after committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, rape, aggravated arson, aggravated robbery, or aggravated burglary, and either the offender was the principal offender in the commission of the aggravated murder or, if not the principal offender, committed the aggravated murder with prior calculation and design. 

(8) The victim of the aggravated murder was a witness to an offense who was purposely killed to prevent the victim's testimony in any criminal proceeding and the aggravated murder was not committed during the commission, attempted commission, or flight immediately after the commission or attempted commission of the offense to which the victim was a witness, or the victim of the aggravated murder was a witness to an offense and was purposely killed in retaliation for the victim's testimony in any criminal proceeding. 

(9) The offender, in the commission of the offense, purposefully caused the death of another who was under thirteen years of age at the time of the commission of the offense, and either the offender was the principal offender in the commission of the offense or, if not the principal offender, committed the offense with prior calculation and design. 

(10) The offense was committed while the offender was committing, attempting to commit, or fleeing immediately after committing or attempting to commit terrorism. 

(B)  If one or more of the aggravating circumstances listed in division (A) of this section is specified in the indictment or count in the indictment and proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and if the offender did not raise the matter of age pursuant to section 2929.023 [2929.02.3] of the Revised Code or if the offender, after raising the matter of age, was found at trial to have been eighteen years of age or older at the time of the commission of the offense, the court, trial jury, or panel of three judges shall consider, and weigh against the aggravating circumstances proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the nature and circumstances of the offense, the history, character, and background of the offender, and all of the following factors: 

(1) Whether the victim of the offense induced or facilitated it; 

(2) Whether it is unlikely that the offense would have been committed, but for the fact that the offender was under duress, coercion, or strong provocation; 

(3) Whether, at the time of committing the offense, the offender, because of a mental disease or defect, lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of the offender's conduct or to conform the offender's conduct to the requirements of the law; 

(4) The youth of the offender; 

(5) The offender's lack of a significant history of prior criminal convictions and delinquency adjudications; 

(6) If the offender was a participant in the offense but not the principal offender, the degree of the offender's participation in the offense and the degree of the offender's participation in the acts that led to the death of the victim; 

(7) Any other factors that are relevant to the issue of whether the offender should be sentenced to death. 

(C)  The defendant shall be given great latitude in the presentation of evidence of the factors listed in division (B) of this section and of any other factors in mitigation of the imposition of the sentence of death. 
 

The existence of any of the mitigating factors listed in division (B) of this section does not preclude the imposition of a sentence of death on the offender but shall be weighed pursuant to divisions (D)(2) and (3) of section 2929.03 of the Revised Code by the trial court, trial jury, or the panel of three judges against the aggravating circumstances the offender was found guilty of committing. 
 

HISTORY: 134 v H 511 (Eff 1-1-74); 139 v S 1 (Eff 10-19-81); 147 v S 32 (Eff 8-6-97); 147 v H 151 (Eff 9-16-97); 147 v S 193 (Eff 12-29-98); 149 v S 184. Eff 5-15-2002.
 

The provisions of § 3 of SB 193 (147 v  - ) read as follows: 

SECTION 3. Section 2929.04 of the Revised Code is presented in this act as a composite of the section as amended by both Sub. H.B. 151 and Am. S.B. 32 of the 122nd General Assembly, with the new language of neither of the acts shown in capital letters. This is in recognition of the principle stated in division (B) of section 1.52 of the Revised Code that such amendments are to be harmonized where not substantively irreconcilable and constitutes a legislative finding that such is the resulting version in effect prior to the effective date of this act. 

 

19xx Committee Report or Comment.

1974 Committee Comment to H 511

This section provides that the death penalty for aggravated murder is precluded unless one of seven listed aggravating circumstances is specified in the indictment and proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The seven aggravating circumstances deal with: (1) assassination of the President, Vice President, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or a person who has been elected to or is a candidate for any such office; (2) murder for hire; (3) murder to escape accountability for another crime; (4) murder by a prisoner; (5) repeat murder or mass murder; (6) killing a law enforcement officer; and (7) felony murder. 

The section also provides that even if one or more aggravating circumstances is proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the death penalty for aggravated murder is still precluded if the trial court finds that any of three mitigating circumstances is established by a preponderance of the evidence. The mitigating circumstances are: (1) the victim of the offense induced or facilitated it; (2) the offender acted under duress, coercion, or strong provocation; and (3) although the defense of insanity could not be or was not established, the offense was chiefly the product of the offender's mental deficiency or psychosis (psychosis is mental illness, as distinguished from a behavioral disorder. Primarily psychopaths have a behavioral disorder.) 

Transition - capital offenses.

Persons charged with a capital offense committed prior to January 1, 1974, must be tried under the law as it existed at the time of the offense and, if convicted, sentenced to life imprisonment. If the section defining the offense provides for a lesser penalty under the circumstances of a particular case, then the lesser penalty must be imposed in that case. 

Persons committing aggravated murder (the only capital offense in the new code) on and after January 1, 1974, must be charged and tried under the new law and, if convicted, may be subject to the death penalty. See, sections 2903.01, 2929.02 to 2929.04, and 2941.14. 

Transition - offenses other than capital offenses.

Persons charged with an offense, other than a capital offense, committed prior to January 1, 1974, must be tried under the law as it existed at the time of the offense. Any such person convicted and sentenced prior to January 1, 1974, must be sentenced under the penalty provided in the law under which he was tried. Any such person either convicted or sentenced on or after January 1, 1974, must be sentenced under the lesser of the penalties provided for the offense for which he was tried or for the substantially equivalent offense in the new code. If there is no substantially equivalent offense in the new code, sentence must be imposed under the old law. 

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