criminal court records
Death Penalty Cases
In California, the prosecutor can seek a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole or the death penalty in murder cases that involve "special circumstances." These include a variety of circumstances, such as the killing of a law enforcement or other public official, a murder committed in connection with other crimes or a murder that was especially cruel or atrocious.
These special circumstances cases require two jury trials.
The first jury trial determines the person's guilt or innocence, and is very similar to trials involving other criminal charges.
If the jury's verdict is guilty, then a second, mini-trial is held before the same jury to determine punishment - whether the jury wants to impose a death sentence or life in prison without possibility of parole.