Code of the District of Columbia

§ 22–2104.01. Sentencing procedure for murder in the first degree.

(a) If a defendant is convicted of murder in the first degree, and if the prosecution has given the notice required under § 22-2104(a), a separate sentencing procedure shall be conducted as soon as practicable after the trial has been completed to determine whether to impose a sentence of more than 60 years up to, and including, life imprisonment without possibility of release.

(b) In determining the sentence, a finding shall be made whether, beyond a reasonable doubt, any of the following aggravating circumstances exist:

(1) The murder was committed in the course of kidnapping or abduction, or an attempt to kidnap or abduct;

(2) The murder was committed for hire;

(3) The murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest or effecting an escape from custody;

(4) The murder was especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel;

(5) The murder was a drive-by or random shooting;

(6) There was more than 1 offense of murder in the first degree arising out of 1 incident;

(7) The murder was committed because of the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression (as defined in § 2-1401.02(12A));

(8) The murder was committed while committing or attempting to commit a robbery, arson, rape, or sexual offense;

(9) The murder was committed because the victim was or had been a witness in any criminal investigation or judicial proceeding, or the victim was capable of providing or had provided assistance in any criminal investigation or judicial proceeding;

(10) The murder victim was especially vulnerable due to age or a mental or physical infirmity;

(11) The murder is committed after substantial planning; or

(12) At the time of the commission of the murder, the defendant had previously been convicted and sentenced, whether in a court of the District of Columbia, of the United States, or of any state, for (A) murder, (B) manslaughter, (C) any attempt, solicitation, or conspiracy to commit murder, (D) assault with intent to kill, (E) assault with intent to murder, or (F) at least twice, for any offense or offenses, described in § 22-4501(f) [now § 22-4501(4)], whether committed in the District of Columbia or any other state, or the United States. A person shall be considered as having been convicted and sentenced twice for an offense or offenses when the initial sentencing for the conviction in the first offense preceded the commission of the second offense and the initial sentencing for the second offense preceded the commission of the instant murder.

(c) The finding shall state in writing whether, beyond a reasonable doubt, 1 or more of the aggravating circumstances exist. If 1 or more aggravating circumstances exist, a sentence of more than 60 years up to, and including, life imprisonment without release may be imposed.

(d) If the trial court is reversed on appeal because of error only in the separate sentencing procedure, any new proceeding before the trial court shall pertain only to the issue of sentencing.


(Mar. 3, 1901, ch. 854, § 801a; as added Sept. 26, 1992, D.C. Law 9-153, § 2(d), 39 DCR 3868; May 23, 1995, D.C. Law 10-256, § 2(b), 42 DCR 20; June 3, 1997, D.C. Law 11-275, § 5, 44 DCR 1408; June 8, 2001, D.C. Law 13-302, § 4(e), 47 DCR 7249; June 25, 2008, D.C. Law 17-177, § 11, 55 DCR 3696.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 22-2404.1.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 22-2104, § 22-4502, and § 24-403.01.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 13-302 substituted “release” for “parole” throughout the section; in subsec. (a), substituted “more than 60 years up to, and including,” for “life imprisonment or”; in subsec. (b), substituted “a finding shall be made” for “the court shall consider”; and, in subsec. (c), substituted “finding shall” for “court shall”, deleted “the court finds that” following “If”, and inserted “more than 60 years up to, and including”.

D.C. Law 17-177, in subsec. (b)(7), substituted “sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (as defined in § 2-1401.02(12A))” for “or sexual orientation”.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90-day) amendment of section, see § 4(e) of the Sentencing Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2000 (D.C. Act 13-410, August 11, 2000, 47 DCR 7271).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4(e) of the Sentencing Reform Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 13-462, November 7, 2000, 47 DCR 9443).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4(e) of Sentencing Reform Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-2, February 2, 2001, 48 DCR 2239).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 4(e) of Sentencing Reform Second Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-51, May 2, 2001, 48 DCR 4370).