What felonies can lead to the death penalty?
Murder is the crime that can lead to the death penalty. It used to be that other very serious felonies—such as rape—could lead to the ultimate punishment, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that rape that did not result in death could not be punishable by death. There are, however, different classifications of murder.
There is first-degree murder, second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and vehicular homicide. Different states will have differences in their classifications.
The most serious charge is first-degree murder, which in most states can be punishable by death. Other common sentences for first-degree murder are life in prison without the possibility of parole and life with parole. In some states, such as Missouri, the only penalties for first-degree murder are death and life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.