Skip to main content

Past Legislation

Past Years' Legislation

1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007

Past Moratorium / Repeal Bills:

2000 Moratorium Bill (HB 388)
2001 Moratorium Bill (HB 563 / SB 316)
2001 Repeal Bill (HB 102)
2003 Moratorium Bill (HB 16 / SB 12)
2003 Repeal Bill (SB 544)
2004 Repeal Bill (HB 521)
2005 Repeal Bill (HB 1159 / SB 666)
2006 Moratorium Bill (HB 1745)
2006 Repeal Bill (HB 809 / SB 349)
2007 Repeal Bill (HB 225 / SB 211)

Return to Top

1996

Only one bill relating to the death penalty was introduced in 1996 - an expansion bill that would provide for the death penalty as a possible sentence for those convicted of a sexual offense for a child under the age of 16. (withdrawn in senate committee)

Return to Top

1997

1997 saw a great increase in the number of death penalty related bills - 20 were introduced in either the Senate or the House, and represented a wide range of type, from expansion, to procedural issues, to the commission of studies.

Expansion

  • 1st degree murder committed in conjunction with offenses involving a controlled dangerous substance (CDS)
  • 1st degree murder of an on-duty law enforcement officer
  • For persons on parole convicted of 1st degree murder
  • For persons convicted of serial murder (three or more 1st degree murder convictions in a period of 4 or less years)
  • 1st degree murder committed in conjunction with stalking of the victim
  • 1st degree murder showing a "callous disregard for human life"
  • Lower the minimum age for capital prosecution from 18 to 16 (voted down in committee)

Procedural / Protocol

  • Jury instructions must include stipulation that jury cannot consider the race of the defendant
  • Provides for defendant to be sentenced before a judge (as opposed to a jury) if he/she was convicted by a judge without a jury
  • Victims' Rights Act of 1997 provides for victims' and/or victims' family members to participate in sentencing and parole hearings, notified of various proceedings involving the defendant (passed)

Studies

  • Provide for the creation of the Maryland Commission on the Fair Imposition of the Death Penalty

Return to Top

1998

12 death penalty related bills were introduced to the Maryland General Assembly in 1998 and, as in the year prior, most of them were expansion bills.

Expansion

  • 1st degree murder of a person under protective order
  • 1st degree murder committed in conjunction with drug trafficking and other CDS-related offenses
  • For persons convicted as principal in the premeditated and willful 2nd degree murder of an on-duty law enforcement officer
  • Lower the minimum age for capital prosecution from 18 to 16

Procedural

  • A sentence of life without parole (LWOP) cannot be increased to death by Judicial Review Panel
  • Allow victims and/ or vicitms' families to attend Judicial Review Panel proceedings
  • Provide for the creation of the Maryland Fair Imposition of the Death Penalty Database - required to contain information concerning specified homicides, require Departments of Public Safety and Correctional Services to publish regulations by January 1999

Return to Top

1999

Only 5 bills pertaining to the death penalty were introduced in the House or Senate in 1999.

Two of them were expansion bills (for 1st degree murder of persons under a protective order, and for 1st degree murder committed in conjunction with drug trafficking). Another would have commissioned a study, focusing on race in charging and sentencing, by the University of Maryland (department of Criminology).

Return to Top

2000

A moratorium bill (HB 388) was introduced in 2000: it did not make it out of the House Judiciary Committee. An expansion bill providing the death penalty for 1st degree murder of persons under protective order was again introduced.

Return to Top

2001

Both an abolition (HB 102) and moratorium bills (HB 563 / SB 316) were introduced in 2001. The former was voted down in the House Judiciary Committee, while the latter made it out of committee, passed on the floor of the House, and eventually fell on vote short of passage in the Senate.

A bill to expand the death penalty and provide for it for 1st degree murder of persons under protective order was introduced yet again. A bill to authorize persons under a sentence of death to petition for post-conviction DNA testing was voted down in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Return to Top

2002

6 bills were introduced in 2002, mostly relating to procedure and protocol.

One bill allowed for the Court of Appeals to set aside a death sentence for Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). Another would have allowed for the defendant to rebut specific evidence during sentencing proceedings, and another would have changed the standard of proof used from a "preponderance of evidence" to "beyond a reasonable doubt" - this second bill was voted down in committee.

Expansion bills would have provided death as a sentencing option for those convicted of the 1st degree murder of persons under a protective order, and 1st degree murder as a result of biological terrorism.

Return to Top

2003

2003 saw a substantial increase of death penalty-related bills, with 14 introduced (none of them passed).

The moratorium bills (HB 16 / SB 12) came closer to passing than ever, before finally falling one vote short in a vote on the Senate floor. A repeal bill (SB 544) was also introduced, but did not make it out of committee.

Aside from a bill that would establish a task force to study the need for prosecutorial guidelines and procedures to govern death penalty decisions, all other legislation was either expansionist in nature or relating to procedure and protocol.

Expansion

  • 1st degree murder of an off-duty law enforcement officer in retaliation for on-duty action
  • 1st degree murder of a child under a certain age
  • For persons convicted of multiple murders committed in the same incident
  • For persons convicted of serial murder (defined as 3 or more within a 4 year period)

Procedural / Protocol

  • Require the State to seek death in every case eligible, exceptions only in cases where the victims' family does not want the death penalty (Dawn's Law) (withdrawn in committee)
  • Removal of felony murder from the list of aggravating factors
  • Require the Court of Appeals to review penalties imposed in similar cases considering the crime and defendant (proportionality review)

Return to Top

2004

16 bills relating to Maryland's death penalty were introduced in 2004 and, as in 2003, none of these bills passed.

A repeal bill (HB 521) was introduced and had one hearing in the Judiciary committee. Another bill would have specifically prohibited the death penalty for the homicide of an unborn child - including the termination of a pregnancy by the mother and by persons convicted of 1st degree murder of the mother. A bill providing for the creation of the MD Commission on Capital Punishment passed out of the Senate, but died in the House).

The remaining bills would have added new aggravating factors, and instituted changes in and/or additions to procedure and protocol.

Expansion

  • For persons convicted of serial murder (multiple 1st degree murders within a specified time period)
  • 1st degree murder in retaliation for testimony or to prevent testimony
  • 1st degree murder of an off-duty law enforcement officer in retaliation for on-duty action
  • 1st degree murder of a prosecutor (Prosecutor Protection Act of 2004)
  • 1st degree murder of persons under protective order

Procedural / Protocol

  • Require the electronic recording of interrogation in cases involving a capital offense (voted down in committee)
  • Prevent seeking the death penalty in cases where the Court of Appeals reverses the conviction based on prosecutorial misconduct

Return to Top

2005

In 2005, 13 death penalty-related bills were introduced and one - providing for the prosecution of persons charged with the murder or manslaughter of a viable fetus (excepting lawful acts committed by a medical professional or pregnant woman) - passed.

A bill to repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of LWOP (HB 1159 / SB 666) was introduced and withdrawn in committee. A bill to require the electronic recording of custodial interrogations in cases where a person in charged with a crime punishable by death was also introduced.

Expansion

  • 1st degree murder of an off-duty law enforcement officer in retaliation for actions on-duty
  • For persons convicted of serial murder (defined as 3 or more 1st degree murders within a 4 year period)
  • 1st degree murder of persons under a protective order
  • For 1st degree murder of victims, witnesses, and specified individuals in the course of committing or attempting to commit specified crimes relating to the murdered individuals' official duties

Return to Top

2006

Only 6 death penalty-related bills were introduced in 2006, including a moratorium bill (HB 1745) and repeal bills (HB 809 / SB 349). None of these bills made it out of their committees.

The remaining bills added serial murder (defined as 3 or more 1st degree murders within a 4 year period) and the 1st degree murder of a person under protective order as aggravating factors for imposing the death penalty, and would require the electronic recording of custodial interrogations of persons charged with a crime punishable by death. This last bill was voted down in committee.

Return to Top

2007

Five pieces of death penalty legislation were introduced in 2007 - two bills to repeal the death penalty (HB 225 / SB 211), two bills to exempt Maryland's lethal injection protocol from the State's Administrative Procedures Act (APA) (HB 690 / SB 239), and one to expand the death penalty, allowing it for first-degree murders involving witness intimidation (HB 645). The bills to exempt the protocol from the APA would have put an end to the de facto death penalty moratorium Maryland has been under since the State's Court of Appeals ruled it's lethal injection procedure invalid in December 2006.

Both the bill to expand the death penalty and the bill to exempt the protocol failed in the House Judiciary Committee. Legislation to repeal Maryland's death penalty deadlocked in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and was not called to a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.