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Constitution of North Carolina

ARTICLE XI Punishments, Corrections, and Charities

Sec. 2. Death punishment.

The object of punishments being not only to satisfy justice, but also to reform the offender and thus prevent crime, murder, arson, burglary, and rape, and these only, may be punishable with death, if the General Assembly shall so enact.

Cross References. - As to punishment for murder, see G.S. § 14-17.

As to punishment for rape, see G.S. § 14-27.21 and § 14-27.22.

As to punishment for burglary, see G.S. § 14-52.

As to punishment for arson, see G.S. § 14-58.

As to burning of buildings other than dwelling houses, see G.S. § 14-59 et seq.

History Note. - The provisions of this section are similar to those of Art. XI, § 2, Const. 1868.

Legal Periodicals. - For symposium address on the death penalty in North Carolina, see 8 Campbell L. Rev. 1 (1985).

For article, "Prosecutorial Abuse of Peremptory Challenges in Death Penalty Litigation: Some Constitutional and Ethical Considerations," see 8 Campbell L. Rev. 71 (1985).

For note, "Arbitrariness and the Death Penalty in an International Context," see 45 Duke L.J. 611 (1995).

For article, "Innocence Modified," see 89 N.C. L. Rev. 1083 (2011).


Editor's Note. - Some of the cases cited below were decided under former Art. XI, § 2, Const. 1868.

Discretion of Legislature. - The punishment to be inflicted for any crime is left entirely to the General Assembly, which may in its discretion affix lesser punishments, even for the four crimes mentioned in this section. State v. Lytle, 138 N.C. 738, 51 S.E. 66 (1905).

Imposition of the death penalty upon a conviction of murder is expressly authorized by this section. State v. Atkinson, 275 N.C. 288, 167 S.E.2d 241 (1969), judgment rev'd insofar as it imposed the death sentence, 403 U.S. 948, 91 S. Ct. 2283, 29 L. Ed. 2d 859 (1971).

For case holding that imposition of death penalty upon conviction of rape is not unconstitutional per se, see State v. Yoes, 271 N.C. 616, 157 S.E.2d 386 (1967).

For discussion of former statute prescribing punishment of death for burning millhouse, see State v. King, 69 N.C. 419 (1873).

Applied in State v. Jones, 290 N.C. 292, 225 S.E.2d 549 (1976).

Cited in State v. Jarrette, 284 N.C. 625, 202 S.E.2d 721 (1974).

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