Legal Dictionary

capital punishment

Legal Definition of capital punishment


  1. The most severe of all sentences: that of death. Also known as the death penalty, capital punishment has been banned in many countries. In the United States, an earlier move to eliminate capital punishment has now been reversed and more and more states are resorting to capital punishment for serious offenses such as murder.

Related terms

Definition of capital punishment


    capital + punishment, originally by beheading or decapitating


capital punishment (plural capital punishments)

  1. punishment by death

See also

Further reading

Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution, is the execution of a person by judicial process as a punishment for an offense. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from Latin capitalis, literally "regarding the head" (Latin caput). Hence, a capital crime was originally one punished by the severing of the head.

Capital punishment has been practiced in virtually every society, and thus can be considered to be a cultural universal or close to it, excluding those with state religious proscriptions against it. It is a matter of active controversy in various countries and states, and positions can vary within a single political ideology or cultural region. In the EU member states, Article 2 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union prohibits the use of capital punishment.[1]

Today, most countries are considered by Amnesty International as abolitionists,[2] which allowed a vote on a nonbinding resolution to the UN to promote the abolition of the death penalty.[3] But more than 60% of the worldwide population live in countries where executions take place insofar as the four most populous countries in the world (the People's Republic of China, India, United States and Indonesia) apply the death penalty and are unlikely to abolish it at any time soon.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Capital punishment in Malaysia

Capital punishment in Malaysia applies to murder, drug trafficking, treason, and waging war against Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the King). Recently, the law has been extended to include acts of terrorism. Any terrorists, and anyone who aids terrorists, financially or otherwise, are liable to face the death penalty.

Death sentences are carried out by hanging as provided in Section 281 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Pregnant women and children may not be sentenced to death.


  1. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
  2. Amnesty International
  3. moratorium on the death penalty
  4. Asia Times Online � The best news coverage from South Asia
  5. Coalition mondiale contre la peine de mort � Indonesian activists face upward death penalty trend � Asia � Pacific � Actualit�s
  6. No serious chance of repeal in those states that are actually using the death penalty
  7. AG Brown says he'll follow law on death penalty
  8. lawmakers-cite-economic-crisis-effort-ban-death-penalty
  9. death penalty is not likely to end soon in US
  10. Death penalty repeal unlikely says anti-death penalty activist
  11. A new Texas? Ohio's death penalty examined � Campus
  12. THE DEATH PENALTY IN JAPAN-FIDH > Human Rights for All / Les Droits de l'Homme pour Tous


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     warrant
2.     tampering
3.     emtio
4.     amnesty law
5.     magistrates court
6.     lex fori
7.     landed property
8.     lex situs
9.     lex causae
10.     ownership