Understanding Alabama’s Amendment 1 and Amendment 3

 

With Election Day 2022 now behind us, there are two amendments that have a direct impact on our state’s criminal law and procedures. Alabama Amendment 1 and Amendment 3 present two changes that you should be aware of, especially if you find yourself accused of a serious crime.

These two amendments are unrelated to each other but both passed with over 80% of voters supporting them. We want to dig deeper into what these amendments actually mean for Alabamans now that they will be implemented.

Alabama Amendment 1

Alabama’s Amendment 1 appeared on the ballot as follows:

“​​Proposing an amendment to Section 16 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 16 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama 1901, as amended, to create Aniah’s Law, to provide that an individual is entitled to reasonable bail prior to conviction, unless charged with capital murder, murder, kidnapping in the first degree, rape in the first degree, sodomy in the first degree, sexual torture, domestic violence in the first degree, human trafficking in the first degree, burglary in the first degree, arson in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, terrorism when the specified offense is a Class A felony other than murder, and aggravated child abuse of a child under the age of six.”

Voters were asked to vote yes or no and over 80% of voters supported the measure. This, along with the passing of House Bill 130 means anyone charged with the following crimes can have bail denied as long as the prosecution can provide clear evidence that allowing the defendant out on bail would either put the public at risk or create a risk that they dodge future court dates:

  • Murder
  • First-degree kidnapping
  • First-degree rape
  • First-degree sodomy
  • Sexual torture
  • First-degree domestic violence
  • First-degree human trafficking
  • First-degree burglary
  • First-degree arson
  • First-degree robbery
  • Class A terrorism offenses
  • Aggravated abuse of a child under 6

Alabama Amendment 2

Alabama’s Amendment 2 appeared on the ballot as follows:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to require the Governor to provide notice to the Attorney General and to the victim’s family prior to granting a reprieve or commutation to a person sentenced to death, and to void the reprieve or commutation if the Governor fails to provide notice.”

This amendment passed with over 80% of the vote, as well, and provides a relatively straightforward change to the way death penalty commutations or reprieves must be communicated. With Alabama being one of 27 states that still allow the death penalty, there have been some controversies recently over getting stays for pending executions. Now, the governor is required to notify the Alabama attorney general and the victim’s family before granting a reprieve or commutation. If the governor does not do so, the reprieve or commutation will be void and the attorney general can move forward with another execution order.

Both of these measures mean more severe consequences for those charged or convicted of serious crimes in Alabama. This makes it even more imperative to have the power of representation on your side. Attorney John M. Totten is recognized as one of Alabama’s top trial lawyers and can fight for your freedom from the beginning of your case to the very end. Contact our team and make sure you’ve got the best possible defense in your corner.

John M. Totten
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