The precise definition of crimes eligible for the death penalty varies from state to state. However, broadly speaking, capital murder is intentional murder accompanied by at least one aggravating factor. (See our resources page for more info on aggravating and mitigating factors.)
A capital trial is a far more complex process than a standard murder trial. Jury selection is elaborate and time-consuming - see below for more info. The trial itself is split into two parts. The first part establishes whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. if they are found guilty then the second part establishes whether they should receive the death penalty or some other sentence. (See our resources page for more info on capital trial and appeals processes.)
The legal system in the US is fused so an attorney is equivalent to being both a barrister and a solicitor. In capital trials, the legal team may also include one or more mitigation specialists. One of the key aims of mitigation is to humanise the defendant and try to counteract the negative media that so often accompanies a capital trial.