Colorado Revised Statutes Title 18 Criminal Code § 18-13-1201 Imposition of sentence in class 1 felonies--appellate review

(1)(a) Upon conviction of guilt of a defendant of a class 1 felony, the trial court shall conduct a separate sentencing hearing to determine whether the defendant should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment, unless the defendant was under the age of eighteen years at the time of the commission of the offense or unless the defendant has been determined to be a mentally retarded defendant pursuant to part 11 of this article, in either of which cases, the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment.  The hearing shall be conducted by the trial judge before the trial jury as soon as practicable.  Alternate jurors shall not be excused from the case prior to submission of the issue of guilt to the trial jury and shall remain separately sequestered until a verdict is entered by the trial jury.  If the verdict of the trial jury is that the defendant is guilty of a class 1 felony, the alternate jurors shall sit as alternate jurors on the issue of punishment.  If, for any reason satisfactory to the court, any member or members of the trial jury are excused from participation in the sentencing hearing, the trial judge shall replace each juror or jurors with an alternate juror or jurors.  If a trial jury was waived or if the defendant pled guilty, the hearing shall be conducted before the trial judge.  The court shall instruct the defendant when waiving his or her right to a jury trial or when pleading guilty, that he or she is also waiving his or her right to a jury determination of the sentence at the sentencing hearing.

(a.5) Deleted by Laws 2002, 3rd Ex.Sess., Ch. 1, § 2, eff. July 12, 2002.

(a.7) Deleted by Laws 2002, 3rd Ex.Sess., Ch. 1, § 2, eff. July 12, 2002.

(b) All admissible evidence presented by either the prosecuting attorney or the defendant that the court deems relevant to the nature of the crime, and the character, background, and history of the defendant, including any evidence presented in the guilt phase of the trial, any matters relating to any of the aggravating or mitigating factors enumerated in subsections (4) and (5) of this section, and any matters relating to the personal characteristics of the victim and the impact of the crimes on the victim's family may be presented.  Any such evidence, including but not limited to the testimony of members of the victim's immediate family, as defined in section 24-4.1-302(6), C.R.S ., which the court deems to have probative value may be received, as long as each party is given an opportunity to rebut such evidence.  The prosecuting attorney and the defendant or the defendant's counsel shall be permitted to present arguments for or against a sentence of death.  The jury shall be instructed that life imprisonment means imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.

(c) Deleted by Laws 2002, 3rd Ex.Sess., Ch. 1, § 2, eff. July 12, 2002.

(d) The burden of proof as to the aggravating factors enumerated in subsection (5) of this section shall be beyond a reasonable doubt.  There shall be no burden of proof as to proving or disproving mitigating factors.

(2)(a) After hearing all the evidence and arguments of the prosecuting attorney and the defendant, the jury shall deliberate and render a verdict based upon the following considerations:

(I) Whether at least one aggravating factor has been proved as enumerated in subsection (5) of this section;

(II) Whether sufficient mitigating factors exist which outweigh any aggravating factor or factors found to exist;  and

(III) Based on the considerations in subparagraphs (I) and (II) of this paragraph (a), whether the defendant should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

(b)(I) In the event that no aggravating factors are found to exist as enumerated in subsection (5) of this section, the jury shall render a verdict of life imprisonment, and the court shall sentence the defendant to life imprisonment.

(II) The jury shall not render a verdict of death unless it unanimously finds and specifies in writing that:

(A) At least one aggravating factor has been proved;  and

(B) There are insufficient mitigating factors to outweigh the aggravating factor or factors that were proved.

(c) In the event that the jury's verdict is to sentence to death, such verdict shall be unanimous and shall be binding upon the court unless the court determines, and sets forth in writing the basis and reasons for such determination, that the verdict of the jury is clearly erroneous as contrary to the weight of the evidence, in which case the court shall sentence the defendant to life imprisonment.

(d) If the jury's verdict is not unanimous, the jury shall be discharged, and the court shall sentence the defendant to life imprisonment.

(2.5) In all cases where the sentencing hearing is held before the court alone, the court shall determine whether the defendant should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment in the same manner in which a jury determines its verdict under paragraphs (a) and (b) of subsection (2) of this section.  The sentence of the court shall be supported by specific written findings of fact based upon the circumstances as set forth in subsections (4) and (5) of this section and upon the records of the trial and sentencing hearing.

(3)(a) The provisions of this subsection (3) shall apply only in a class 1 felony case in which the prosecuting attorney has filed a statement of intent to seek the death penalty pursuant to rule 32.1(b) of the Colorado rules of criminal procedure .

(b) The prosecuting attorney shall provide the defendant with the following information and materials not later than twenty-one days after the prosecution files its written intention to seek the death penalty or within such other time frame as the supreme court may establish by rule;  except that any reports, recorded statements, and notes, including results of physical or mental examinations and scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons, of any expert whom the prosecuting attorney intends to call as a witness at the sentencing hearing shall be provided to the defense as soon as practicable but not later than sixty-three days before trial:

(I) A list of all aggravating factors that are known to the prosecuting attorney at that time and that the prosecuting attorney intends to prove at the sentencing hearing;

(II) A list of all witnesses whom the prosecuting attorney may call at the sentencing hearing, specifying for each the witness' name, address, and date of birth and the subject matter of the witness' testimony;

(III) The written and recorded statements, including any notes of those statements, for each witness whom the prosecuting attorney may call at the sentencing hearing;

(IV) Deleted by Laws 2002, 3rd Ex.Sess., Ch. 1, § 2, eff. July 12, 2002.

(V) A list of books, papers, documents, photographs, or tangible objects that the prosecuting attorney may introduce at the sentencing hearing;  and

(VI) All material or information that tends to mitigate or negate the finding of any of the aggravating factors the prosecuting attorney intends to prove at the sentencing hearing.

(b.5) Upon receipt of the information required to be disclosed by the defendant pursuant to paragraph (c) of this subsection (3), the prosecuting attorney shall notify the defendant as soon as practicable of any additional witnesses whom the prosecuting attorney intends to call in response to the defendant's disclosures.

(c) The defendant shall provide the prosecuting attorney with the following information and materials no later than thirty-five days before the first trial date set for the beginning of the defendant's trial or within such other time frame as the supreme court may establish by rule;  however, any reports, recorded statements, and notes, including results of physical or mental examinations and scientific tests, experiments, or comparisons, of any expert whom the defense intends to call as a witness at the sentencing hearing shall be provided to the prosecuting attorney as soon as practicable but not later than thirty-five days before trial:

(I) A list of all witnesses whom the defendant may call at the sentencing hearing, specifying for each the witness' name, address, and date of birth and the subject matter of the witness' testimony;

(II) The written and recorded statements, including any notes of those statements, of each witness whom the defendant may call at the sentencing hearing;  and

(III) Deleted By Laws 2002, 3rd Ex.Sess., Ch. 1, § 2, eff. July 12, 2002.

(IV) A list of books, papers, documents, photographs, or tangible objects that the defendant may introduce at the sentencing hearing.

(c.5)(I) Any material subject to this subsection (3) that the defendant believes contains information that is privileged to the extent that the prosecution cannot be aware of it in connection with its preparation for, or conduct of, the trial to determine guilt on the substantive charges against the defendant shall be submitted by the defendant to the trial judge under seal no later than forty-nine days before trial.

(II) The trial judge shall review any such material submitted under seal pursuant to subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (c.5) to determine whether it is in fact privileged.  Any material the trial judge finds not to be privileged shall be provided forthwith to the prosecuting attorney.  Any material submitted under seal that the trial judge finds to be privileged shall be provided forthwith to the prosecution if the defendant is convicted of a class 1 felony.

(d)(I) Except as otherwise provided in subparagraph (II) of this paragraph (d), if the witnesses disclosed by the defendant pursuant to paragraph (c) of this subsection (3) include witnesses who may provide evidence concerning the defendant's mental condition at the sentencing hearing conducted pursuant to this section, the trial court, at the request of the prosecuting attorney, shall order that the defendant be examined and a report of said examination be prepared pursuant to section 16-8-106, C.R.S .

(II) The court shall not order an examination pursuant to subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (d) if:

(A) Such an examination was previously performed and a report was prepared in the same case;  and

(B) The report included an opinion concerning how any mental disease or defect of the defendant or condition of mind caused by mental disease or defect of the defendant affects the mitigating factors that the defendant may raise at the sentencing hearing held pursuant to this section.

(e) If the witnesses disclosed by the defendant pursuant to paragraph (c) of this subsection (3) include witnesses who may provide evidence concerning the defendant's mental condition at a sentencing hearing conducted pursuant to this section, the provisions of section 16-8-109, C.R.S ., concerning testimony of lay witnesses shall apply to said sentencing hearing.

(f) There is a continuing duty on the part of the prosecuting attorney and the defendant to disclose the information and materials specified in this subsection (3).  If, after complying with the duty to disclose the information and materials described in this subsection (3), either party discovers or obtains any additional information and materials that are subject to disclosure under this subsection (3), the party shall promptly notify the other party and provide the other party with complete access to the information and materials.

(g) The trial court, upon a showing of extraordinary circumstances that could not have been foreseen and prevented, may grant an extension of time to comply with the requirements of this subsection (3).

(h) If it is brought to the attention of the court that either the prosecuting attorney or the defendant has failed to comply with the provisions of this subsection (3) or with an order issued pursuant to this subsection (3), the court may enter any order against such party that the court deems just under the circumstances, including but not limited to an order to permit the discovery or inspection of information and materials not previously disclosed, to grant a continuance, to prohibit the offending party from introducing the information and materials not disclosed, or to impose sanctions against the offending party.

(4) For purposes of this section, mitigating factors shall be the following factors:

(a) The age of the defendant at the time of the crime;  or

(b) The defendant's capacity to appreciate wrongfulness of the defendant's conduct or to conform the defendant's conduct to the requirements of law was significantly impaired, but not so impaired as to constitute a defense to prosecution;  or

(c) The defendant was under unusual and substantial duress, although not such duress as to constitute a defense to prosecution;  or

(d) The defendant was a principal in the offense which was committed by another, but the defendant's participation was relatively minor, although not so minor as to constitute a defense to prosecution;  or

(e) The defendant could not reasonably have foreseen that the defendant's conduct in the course of the commission of the offense for which the defendant was convicted would cause, or would create a grave risk of causing, death to another person;  or

(f) The emotional state of the defendant at the time the crime was committed;  or

(g) The absence of any significant prior conviction;  or

(h) The extent of the defendant's cooperation with law enforcement officers or agencies and with the office of the prosecuting district attorney;  or

(i) The influence of drugs or alcohol;  or

(j) The good faith, although mistaken, belief by the defendant that circumstances existed which constituted a moral justification for the defendant's conduct;  or

(k) The defendant is not a continuing threat to society;  or

(l) Any other evidence which in the court's opinion bears on the question of mitigation.

(5) For purposes of this section, the following are aggravating factors:

(a) The class 1 felony was committed by a person under sentence of imprisonment for a class 1, 2, or 3 felony as defined by Colorado law or United States law, or for a crime committed against another state or the United States which would constitute a class 1, 2, or 3 felony as defined by Colorado law;  or

(b) The defendant was previously convicted in this state of a class 1 or 2 felony involving violence as specified in section 18-1.3-406 , or was previously convicted by another state or the United States of an offense which would constitute a class 1 or 2 felony involving violence as defined by Colorado law in section 18-1.3-406 ;  or

(c) The defendant intentionally killed any of the following persons while the person was engaged in the course of the performance of the person's official duties, and the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that the victim was a person engaged in the performance of the person's official duties, or the victim was intentionally killed in retaliation for the performance of the victim's official duties:

(I) A peace officer or former peace officer as described in section 16-2.5-101, C.R.S .;  or

(II) A firefighter as defined in section 24-33.5-1202(4), C.R.S .;  or

(II.5) An emergency medical service provider, as defined in section 18-3-201(1) ;  or

(III) A judge, referee, or former judge or referee of any court of record in the state or federal system or in any other state court system or a judge or former judge in any municipal court in this state or in any other state.  For purposes of this subparagraph (III), the term “referee” shall include a hearing officer or any other officer who exercises judicial functions.

(IV) An elected state, county, or municipal official;  or

(V) A federal law enforcement officer or agent or former federal law enforcement officer or agent;  or

(d) The defendant intentionally killed a person kidnapped or being held as a hostage by the defendant or by anyone associated with the defendant;  or

(e) The defendant has been a party to an agreement to kill another person in furtherance of which a person has been intentionally killed;  or

(f) The defendant committed the offense while lying in wait, from ambush, or by use of an explosive or incendiary device or a chemical, biological, or radiological weapon.  As used in this paragraph (f), “explosive or incendiary device” means:

(I) Dynamite and all other forms of high explosives;  or

(II) Any explosive bomb, grenade, missile, or similar device;  or

(III) Any incendiary bomb or grenade, fire bomb, or similar device, including any device which consists of or includes a breakable container including a flammable liquid or compound, and a wick composed of any material which, when ignited, is capable of igniting such flammable liquid or compound, and can be carried or thrown by one individual acting alone.

(g) The defendant committed a class 1, 2, or 3 felony and, in the course of or in furtherance of such or immediate flight therefrom, the defendant intentionally caused the death of a person other than one of the participants;  or

(h) The class 1 felony was committed for pecuniary gain;  or

(i) In the commission of the offense, the defendant knowingly created a grave risk of death to another person in addition to the victim of the offense;  or

(j) The defendant committed the offense in an especially heinous, cruel, or depraved manner;  or

(k) The class 1 felony was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or prosecution or effecting an escape from custody.  This factor shall include the intentional killing of a witness to a criminal offense.

(l) The defendant unlawfully and intentionally, knowingly, or with universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life generally, killed two or more persons during the commission of the same criminal episode;  or

(m) The defendant intentionally killed a child who has not yet attained twelve years of age;  or

(n) The defendant committed the class 1 felony against the victim because of the victim's race, color, ancestry, religion, or national origin;  or

(o) The defendant's possession of the weapon used to commit the class 1 felony constituted a felony offense under the laws of this state or the United States;  or

(p) The defendant intentionally killed more than one person in more than one criminal episode;  or

(q) The victim was a pregnant woman, and the defendant intentionally killed the victim, knowing she was pregnant.

(6)(a) Whenever a sentence of death is imposed upon a person pursuant to the provisions of this section, the supreme court shall review the propriety of that sentence, having regard to the nature of the offense, the character and record of the offender, the public interest, and the manner in which the sentence was imposed, including the sufficiency and accuracy of the information on which it was based.  The procedures to be employed in the review shall be as provided by supreme court rule.  The supreme court shall combine its review pursuant to this subsection (6) with consideration of any appeal that may be filed pursuant to part 2 of article 12 of title 16, C.R.S.

(b) A sentence of death shall not be imposed pursuant to this section if the supreme court determines that the sentence was imposed under the influence of passion or prejudice or any other arbitrary factor or that the evidence presented does not support the finding of statutory aggravating circumstances.

(7)(a) If any provisions of this section are determined by the United States supreme court or by the Colorado supreme court to render this section unconstitutional or invalid such that this section does not constitute a valid and operative death penalty statute for class 1 felonies, but severance of such provisions would, through operation of the remaining provisions of this section, maintain this section as a valid and operative death penalty statute for class 1 felonies, it is the intent of the general assembly that those remaining provisions are severable and are to have full force and effect.

(b) If any death sentence is imposed upon a defendant pursuant to the provisions of this section and, on appellate review including consideration pursuant to subsection (8) of this section, the imposition of such death sentence upon such defendant is held invalid for reasons other than unconstitutionality of the death penalty or insufficiency of the evidence to support the sentence, the case shall be remanded to the trial court to set a new sentencing hearing before a newly impaneled jury or, if the defendant pled guilty or waived the right to jury sentencing, before the trial judge;  except that, if the prosecutor informs the trial court that, in the opinion of the prosecutor, capital punishment would no longer be in the interest of justice, said defendant shall be returned to the trial court and shall then be sentenced to life imprisonment.  If a death sentence imposed pursuant to this section is held invalid based on unconstitutionality of the death penalty or insufficiency of the evidence to support the sentence, said defendant shall be returned to the trial court and shall then be sentenced to life imprisonment.

(8) If, on appeal, the supreme court finds one or more of the aggravating factors that were found to support a sentence to death to be invalid for any reason, the supreme court may determine whether the sentence of death should be affirmed on appeal by:

(a) Reweighing the remaining aggravating factor or factors and all mitigating factors and then determining whether death is the appropriate punishment in the case;  or

(b) Applying harmless error analysis by considering whether, if the sentencing body had not considered the invalid aggravating factor, it would have nonetheless sentenced the defendant to death;  or

(c) If the supreme court finds the sentencing body's consideration of an aggravating factor was improper because the aggravating factor was not given a constitutionally narrow construction, determining whether, beyond a reasonable doubt, the sentencing body would have returned a verdict of death had the aggravating factor been properly narrowed;  or

(d) Employing any other constitutionally permissible method of review.


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