Current through 2023-2024 Legislative Session Chapter 353
Section 17-10-2 - Conduct of presentence hearings in felony cases; effect of reversal for error in presentence hearing(a)(1) Except in cases in which the death penalty may be imposed, upon the return of a verdict of "guilty" by the jury in any felony case, the judge shall dismiss the jury and shall conduct a presentence hearing at which the only issue shall be the determination of punishment to be imposed. In the hearing the judge shall hear additional evidence in extenuation, mitigation, and aggravation of punishment, including the record of any prior criminal convictions and pleas of guilty or nolo contendere of the accused, or the absence of any prior conviction and pleas.(2) The judge shall also hear argument by the accused or the accused's counsel and the prosecuting attorney, as provided by law, regarding the punishment to be imposed. Except in cases where the death penalty may be imposed, the prosecuting attorney shall open and conclude the argument. In cases where the death penalty may be imposed, the prosecuting attorney shall open and the accused or the accused's counsel shall conclude the argument.(3) Upon the conclusion of the evidence and arguments, the judge shall impose the sentence or shall recess the trial for the purpose of taking the sentence to be imposed under advisement. The judge shall fix a sentence within the limits prescribed by law.(b) In cases in which the death penalty may be imposed, the judge, when sitting without a jury, in addition to the procedure set forth in subsection (a) of this Code section, shall follow the procedures provided for in Code Section 17-10-30.(c) In all cases tried by a jury in which the death penalty may be imposed, upon a return of a verdict of "guilty" by the jury, the court shall resume the trial and conduct a presentence hearing before the jury. The hearing shall be conducted in the same manner as presentence hearings conducted before the judge as provided for in subsection (a) of this Code section. Upon the conclusion of the evidence and arguments, the judge shall give the jury appropriate instructions, and the jury shall retire to determine whether any mitigating or aggravating circumstances, as defined in Code Section 17-10-30, exist and whether to recommend mercy for the accused. Upon the findings of the jury, the judge shall fix a sentence within the limits prescribed by law.(d) If the trial court is reversed on appeal because of error only in the presentence hearing, the new trial which may be ordered shall apply only to the issue of punishment.Amended by 2009 Ga. Laws 62,§ 2, eff. 4/29/2009.Amended by 2005 Ga. Laws 8,§ 11, eff. 7/1/2005.