death penalty

death penalty
putting a condemned person to death
Derivationally related forms: ↑execute (for: ↑executing), ↑executioner (for: ↑execution), ↑execute (for: ↑execution)
Hypernyms: ↑corporal punishment

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the death penalty
: death as a punishment given by a court of law for very serious crimes

If convicted, he could face the death penalty. [=his punishment may be that he will be killed]

She opposes the death penalty. [=capital punishment]

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the ˈdeath penalty noun singular
the punishment of being killed that is used in some countries for very serious crimes


abolition/return of the death penalty

The two men are

facing the death penalty


a crime which carries the death penalty

Capital punishment is the legal killing of a person for a crime they have been proved in a court of law to have committed. In the US the death penalty is used in many states. In 1972 the ↑Supreme Court decided that it was ‘cruel and unusual punishment’, which the Constitution does not allow, and it became illegal until 1976, when the Court changed its mind.
Each state decides what methods of execution (= killing) will be used. This is usually a lethal injection (= an injection of a poisonous chemical) but other methods used include the electric chair (= a chair which sends a strong electric current through the prisoner’s body), and, rarely, hanging, a firing squad (= a group of soldiers who shoot the prisoner), and the gas chamber (= a room that is filled with poisonous gas when the prisoner is inside).
In the US the death penalty is passed on people found guilty of murder. Since 1976 over 900 people have been executed. Most people who receive the death sentence appeal to higher courts, and the sentence may be changed. The legal system moves slowly, so that a long time passes between the sentence being given and the execution taking place. The result is that there are about 3 500 prisoners on death row, i.e. waiting to be executed. The state governor can give a stay of execution (= a delay so that the prisoner has time to appeal to another court) or a pardon. This can happen at any time until the execution takes place.
Another reason why many death sentences are not carried out is that there is strong opposition to capital punishment. People argue that it is immoral and that if a mistake is made it cannot be put right. They also say that the death penalty does not prevent people from committing murder. Another strong argument is that more African Americans who are found guilty of murder are sentenced to death than other racial groups and this is unfair.
In Britain the death penalty for murder was abolished in 1965, but it could still in theory be passed on anyone found guilty of treason (= crimes against the state) until 1998. Some British people think that the death penalty should be brought back for crimes such as terrorism (= the use of violence for political aims) or the murder of a police officer, but Parliament has voted several times against this. In former times about 200 crimes were capital offences, punishable by hanging. The wooden gallows or gibbet on which criminals were hanged can still be seen in some places. Many criminals were hanged in public at ↑Tyburn in London, and later at ↑Newgate prison. Traitors were hanged, drawn and quartered, i.e. hanged on the gallows, then taken down while still alive and their intestines cut out. Their heads were cut off and their bodies cut into four pieces.
Criminal justice
Breaking the law
break/violate/obey/uphold the law
be investigated/arrested/tried for a crime/a robbery/fraud
be arrested/ (especially NAmE) indicted/convicted on charges of rape/fraud/(especially US) felony charges
be arrested on suspicion of arson/robbery/shoplifting
be accused of/be charged with murder/(especially NAmE) homicide/four counts of fraud
face two charges of indecent assault
admit your guilt/liability/responsibility (for sth)
deny the allegations/claims/charges
confess to a crime
grant/be refused/be released on/skip/jump bail
The legal process
stand/await/bring sb to/come to/be on trial
take sb to/come to/settle sth out of court
face/avoid/escape prosecution
seek/retain/have the right to/be denied access to legal counsel
hold/conduct/attend/adjourn a hearing/trial
sit on/influence/persuade/convince the jury
sit/stand/appear/be put/place sb in the dock
plead guilty/not guilty to a crime
be called to/enter (BrE) the witness box
take/put sb on the stand/(NAmE) the witness stand
call/subpoena/question/cross-examine a witness
give/hear the evidence against/on behalf of sb
raise/withdraw/overrule an objection
reach a unanimous/majority verdict
return/deliver/record a verdict of not guilty/unlawful killing/accidental death
convict/acquit the defendant of the crime
secure a conviction/your acquittal
lodge/file an appeal
appeal (against)/challenge/uphold/overturn a conviction/verdict
Sentencing and punishment
pass sentence on sb
carry/face/serve a seven-year/life sentence
receive/be given the death penalty
be sentenced to ten years (in prison/jail)
carry/impose/pay a fine (of $3 000)/a penalty (of 14 years imprisonment)
be imprisoned/jailed for drug possession/fraud/murder
do/serve time/ten years
be sent to/put sb in/be released from jail/prison
be/put sb/spend X years on death row
be granted/be denied/break (your) parole
more collocations at ↑crime

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • death penalty — n. a sentence of death by execution: used with the * * * ➡ capital punishment * * * …   Universalium

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