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What To Know About Derek Chauvin’s Sentencing Charges


If the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin finds him guilty on any of the three charges he faces, it will certainly be a dramatic televised moment when the verdict is read. But how much prison time Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd, would have to serve if he is found guilty will not be decided until several weeks later, after a pre-sentencing report about Mr. Chauvin’s background is produced. Judge Peter A. Cahill would also have to determine if there were special circumstances of the crime that would justify a higher sentence than the prison terms laid out by Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines.

Mr. Chauvin, who has been out on bail since last fall, might also be able to go home after a guilty verdict, as he awaits sentencing. It would be up to the judge to either order Mr. Chauvin to jail immediately, or let him remain out on bail, should he be found guilty. Mr. Chauvin is charged with two counts of murder — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — and the sentencing guidelines for each, for a defendant like Mr. Chauvin with no criminal history, is 12.5 years. But the maximum sentences for each charge differ: Second-degree murder could be as high as 40 years in prison, while the maximum for third-degree murder is 25 years.

Mr. Chauvin is also charged with second-degree manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, but under the guidelines he would most likely be sentenced to four years.

The state, however, has asked for a lengthier sentence should Mr. Chauvin be convicted on any of the charges — what is known as an “upward sentencing departure” — citing aggravating factors including, the state has said in court filings, that the killing of Mr. Floyd happened in the presence of children, that Mr. Floyd was treated with “particular cruelty” by Mr. Chauvin, and that Mr. Chauvin, as a police officer, “abused his position of authority.”

Mr. Chauvin had the option of having the jury rule on the aggravating factors or putting it in the hands of Judge Cahill. At the end of closing arguments on Monday, Mr. Chauvin waived his right to have the jury decide, putting the decision on sentencing solely in the hands of Judge Cahill.

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