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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An execution warrant or death warrant is a warrant which authorizes the execution of a judgment of death (capital punishment) on an individual. It is not to be confused with a license to kill, which operates like an arrest warrant but with deadly force instead of arrest as the end goal.

United States of America

In the United States either a judicial or executive official designated by law issues an execution warrant. This is done when a person has been sentenced to death in a trial court, after trial and conviction, and usually after appeals are exhausted. This protects the executioner from being charged with murder. Normally when a death warrant is signed and an execution date is set, the condemned person is moved from his or her death row cell to a death watch cell, which is typically located adjacent to the execution chamber. Usually, the government agency charged with carrying out an execution, normally the state's Department of Corrections or the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in federal cases, has a limited time frame, normally about 60 days, from the date the warrant is signed, to complete the execution process, or the warrant expires and the condemned person is returned to the death row cell, where he or she will await another execution date. Stays of execution can be ordered in state cases by the the Governor of the state, a trial court, a state appeals court or state Supreme Court or a court in the federal judiciary (including the the United States Supreme Court). In federal death penalty cases the trial court, appeals courts, the United States Supreme Court and President may grant a stay of execution. In all cases, the stay may be issued at any time, even when the condemned is being prepared for execution.

Procedure of setting execution dates by state

State Power Notes
Federal Trial Court Judge
Military Secretary of the Army The Secretary of the Army, as the designated Department of Defense Corrections Level III executive official, sets the date and location of military executions. The execution date must be at least 60 days after affirmation of the sentence by the President of the United States. All sentences of death must be personally affirmed, in writing, by the President of the United States before the Secretary of the Army is permitted to set an execution date. [1]
California Trial Court Judge The execution date shall not be less than 60 days nor more than 90 days from the time of making the order [2]
Texas Trial Court Judge The first execution date may not be earlier than the 91st day after the date the convicting court enters the order setting the execution date. A subsequent execution date may not be earlier than the 31st day after the date the convicting court enters the order setting the execution date.[3] The execution date shall be a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
New York Trial Court Judge Last death sentence reversed on 2007 The week of execution appointed in the warrant shall be not less than 30 days and not more than 60 days after the issuance of the warrant. The date of execution within said week shall be left to the discretion of the commissioner, but the date and hour of the execution shall be announced publicly no later than seven days prior to said execution. [4]
Florida Governor After a stay of execution are dissolved, the Governor must set the new date for execution of the death sentence within 10 days. The Governor can grant stays. [5] If a death sentence is not executed because of unjustified failure of the Governor to issue a warrant, or for any other unjustifiable reason, on application of the Department of Legal Affairs, the Supreme Court shall issue a warrant directing the sentence to be executed during a week designated in the warrant. [6]
Pennsylvania Governor List of execution Warrants Issued since 1985 At least 349 execution warrants were signed since 1985, but only three executions were carried out, because those three defendants waived appeals.
Illinois Supreme Court of Illinois
Ohio Supreme Court of Ohio
North Carolina
Georgia Trial Court Judge The court shall specify the time period for the execution in the sentence. The time period for the execution fixed by the court shall be seven days in duration and shall commence at noon on a specified date and shall end at noon on a specified date. The time period shall commence not less than 20 days nor more than 60 days from the date of sentencing. A new time period for the execution -due to stay- fixed by the judge shall commence not less than ten nor more than 20 days from the date of the order. [7]
Virginia Trial Court Judge
Massachusetts Trial Court Judge Death penalty statute found unconstitutionnal in 1984- Section 57 - chapter 279
Washington Trial Court Judge
Indiana Supreme Court of Indiana
Missouri Supreme Court of Missouri
Tennessee Tennessee Supreme Court
Maryland Trial Court Judge
Alabama Alabama Supreme Court The sentence shall be executed at any hour on the day set for the execution, not less than 30 nor more than 100. [8]
Colorado Trial Court Judge
Louisiana Trial Court Judge
South Carolina South Carolina Supreme Court
Kentucky Governor The execution shall in theory be carried out on the the fifth Friday following the affirmation of the sentence by the Kentucky Supreme Court. However, because of stays, the governor may appoint another day of execution and may continue to do so until the sentence is carried into effect.[9]
Oklahoma Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals code of criminal procedure of the State of Oklahoma, §221001
Mississippi Supreme Court of Mississippi
Nebraska Nebraska Supreme Court
Nevada Trial Court Judge
New Mexico Trial Court Judge When judgment of death is rendered by any court of competent jurisdiction a warrant signed by the judge and attested by the clerk under the seal of the court must be drawn and delivered to the sheriff. It must state the conviction and judgment and appoint a day on which the judgment is to be executed, which must be not less than sixty nor more than ninety days from the date of judgment and must direct the sheriff to deliver the defendant, at a time specified in said order, not more than ten days from the date of judgment, to the warden of the state penitentiary at Santa Fe for execution [10]
Utah Trial Court Judge The appointed day the judgment is to be executed, which may not be fewer than 30 days nor more than 60 days from the date of issuance of the warrant, and may not be a Sunday, Monday, or a legal holiday. [11]
Idaho Trial Court Judge
New Hampshire Governor The governor and council or their designee shall determine the time of performing such execution .
South Dakota Trial Court Judge
Delaware Trial Court Judge
Montana Trial Court Judge
Wyoming Trial Court Judge


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ >2008->Ch0922->Section%20052#0922.052
  6. ^ >2008->Ch0922->Section%2014#0922.14
  7. ^ [5]
  8. ^ [6]
  9. ^ [7]
  10. ^ [8]
  11. ^ [9]

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