What are capital charges?


Quick Answer

A "capital offense" is a serious crime for which a person can be punished by death. Definitions of what should and what should not be considered a capital charge vary from state to state in the United States.

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Full Answer

Capital offenses are normally characterized as crimes involving murder or the betrayal of one's country. An example of what would be considered a capital offense is murder with a deadly weapon or treason. Prior to a 1977 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, the rape of an adult woman was considered a capital offense. Generally, any crime that can be legally punished by death is considered a capital charge.

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