Electrocution Law and Legal Definition

Electrocution is a method of execution. Usually, referred to as the electric chair or simply the Chair. It is an execution method originating in the United States in which the person being killed is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the body. This execution method has been used only in the United States and, for a period of several decades. The electric chair has become a symbol of the death penalty; however, its use is in decline.

Historically, once the condemned person was attached to the chair, various cycles (differing in voltage and duration) of alternating current would be passed through the condemned's body, in order to fatally damage the internal organs (including the brain). The first jolt of electric current was designed to cause immediate unconsciousness and brain death; the second one was designed to cause fatal damage to the vital organs. Death was frequently caused by electrical overstimulation of the heart.

For example, Georgia court concluded the following regarding execution by electrocution. “This Court granted Dawson and Moore's applications for interim review, consolidated the cases, and directed the parties to address whether electrocution remains a constitutional method of execution in Georgia. Upon considered review of this difficult issue, we conclude that future use of electrocution as a means of executing death sentences in Georgia would violate the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment in Art. I, Sec. I, Par. XVII of the Georgia Constitution. Therefore, we direct that any future executions of death sentences in Georgia be carried out by lethal injection in accordance with O.C.G.A. § 17-10-38, as amended.”[Dawson v. State, 274 Ga. 327, 327-328 (Ga. 2001)]