Fifty-Fourth Legislature, First Regular Session




death penalty; aggravating circumstances


Eliminates specified aggravating circumstances that may be considered when determining whether to impose the death penalty.


Statute requires, if the state has filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty and the defendant is convicted of first degree murder and at least 18 years of age, the trier of fact at the sentencing proceeding to determine whether to impose a sentence of death. If the defendant is found guilty of first degree murder, the trier of fact must then determine whether one or more alleged aggravating circumstances have been proven. This proceeding is the aggravation phase of the sentencing proceeding. If one or more of the alleged aggravating circumstances have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and there are no mitigating circumstances sufficiently substantial to call for leniency, then a death sentence is imposed.

There are currently 14 aggravating circumstances enumerated in statute that may be considered in a death penalty case (A.R.S. 13-751).

There is no anticipated fiscal impact to the state General Fund associated with this legislation.


1.      Removes the following aggravating circumstances that may be considered in determining whether to impose a death sentence:

a)      in the commission of the offense the defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person or persons in addition to the person murdered during the commission of the offense;

b)      the offense was committed in a cold calculated manner without pretense of moral or legal justification; and

c)      the defendant used a remote stun gun or an authorized remote stun gun in the commission of the offense.

2.      Removes the aggravating circumstance for an offense committed as consideration for the receipt, or in expectation of the receipt, of anything of pecuniary value; and instead, makes it an aggravating circumstance that the defendant committed the offense as a result of payment, or a promise of payment, of anything of pecuniary value.

3.      Becomes effective on the general effective date.

Prepared by Senate Research

February 5, 2019