(a) Upon conviction of a defendant for a capital offense, the trial court shall conduct a separate sentence hearing to determine whether the defendant shall be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or to death. The sentence hearing shall be conducted as soon as practicable after the defendant is convicted. Provided, however, if the sentence hearing is to be conducted before the trial judge without a jury or before the trial judge and a jury other than the trial jury, as provided elsewhere in this article, the trial court with the consent of both parties may delay the sentence hearing until it has received the pre-sentence investigation report specified in Section 13A-5-47(b). Otherwise, the sentence hearing shall not be delayed pending receipt of the pre-sentence investigation report.
(b) The state and the defendant shall be allowed to make opening statements and closing arguments at the sentence hearing. The order of those statements and arguments and the order of presentation of the evidence shall be the same as at trial.
(c) At the sentence hearing evidence may be presented as to any matter that the court deems relevant to sentence and shall include any matters relating to the aggravating and mitigating circumstances referred to in Sections 13A-5-49, 13A-5-51, and 13A-5-52. Evidence presented at the trial of the case may be considered insofar as it is relevant to the aggravating and mitigating circumstances without the necessity of re-introducing that evidence at the sentence hearing, unless the sentence hearing is conducted before a trial judge other than the one before whom the defendant was tried or a jury other than the trial jury before which the defendant was tried.
(d) Any evidence which has probative value and is relevant to sentence shall be received at the sentence hearing regardless of its admissibility under the exclusionary rules of evidence, provided that the defendant is accorded a fair opportunity to rebut any hearsay statements. This subsection shall not be construed to authorize the introduction of any evidence secured in violation of the Constitution of the United States or the State of Alabama.
(e) At the sentence hearing the state shall have the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of any aggravating circumstances. Provided, however, any aggravating circumstance which the verdict convicting the defendant establishes was proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial shall be considered as proven beyond a reasonable doubt for purposes of the sentence hearing.
(f) Unless at least one aggravating circumstance as defined in Section 13A-5-49 exists, the sentence shall be life imprisonment without parole.
(g) The defendant shall be allowed to offer any mitigating circumstance defined in Sections 13A-5-51 and 13A-5-52. When the factual existence of an offered mitigating circumstance is in dispute, the defendant shall have the burden of interjecting the issue, but once it is interjected the state shall have the burden of disproving the factual existence of that circumstance by a preponderance of the evidence.
Last modified: May 3, 2021