It is possible to receive a death sentence for certain crimes in Arkansas. The state has a controversial background associated with capital punishment, largely because of the 1992 execution of a man with self-inflicted yet severe brain injuries.
Back in 1967, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller placed a moratorium on the death penalty. In 1970, he granted clemency to 15 death row inmates. However, capital punishment again became legal in 1973.
Crimes that could be punishable by death
As you might expect, murder is a top reason a defendant may receive the death penalty in Arkansas. However, treason is another offense that could lead to a death sentence.
Committing other crimes that intentionally or accidentally cause death may also result in the death penalty. Examples include:
- Vehicular piracy (carjacking)
- Aggravated robbery
- Firing a weapon (at someone)
The killing of a police officer or other authority figure (judge, correction officer, teacher, etc.) could also result in the death penalty.
If you are a defendant facing murder charges in Little Rock, you may find it comforting that the death penalty hasn’t been carried out in Arkansas since 2017. That year, four inmates died by lethal injection using a drug cocktail that included midazolam, which is a highly controversial substance.
One of the inmates executed in 2017 appeared to suffer before finally expiring. Since then, capital punishment has come under increased scrutiny by those wishing to abolish this penalty.
Even if the death penalty is off the table, a murder conviction could still result in substantial penalties including a lifetime prison sentence. It is critical to understand the charges you face if your case could carry the death penalty.