Title 17, Chapter 10, Section 2
(a) Except in cases in which the death penalty or life without
parole 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
defendant, or the absence of any prior conviction and pleas,
provided that only such evidence in aggravation as the state has
made known to the defendant prior to the defendant's trial shall be
admissible. The judge shall also hear argument by the defendant or
the defendant's counsel and the district attorney, as provided by
law, regarding the punishment to be imposed. The district attorney
shall open and the defendant or the defendant's counsel shall
conclude the argument. 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 or life without parole 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 Sections 17-10-30 and 17-10-30.1.
(c) In all cases tried by a jury in which the death penalty or life without parole 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 defendant. 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.