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April 20, 2021

Derek Chauvin found guilty on all three homicide charges in killing of George Floyd, now on to sentencing phase with Blakely factors

The high-profile trial of Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd resulted in a jury verdict this afternoon in a Minnesota court with guilt verdict on all three homicice charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. It is my understanding that, under Minnesota state sentencing guidelines, Chauvin would get a prison term of 12.5 years absent proof of aggrvating circumstances, so-called Blakely factors.

I believe that the the prosecution was prepared to argue numerous aggravating Blakely factors to the jury, but that CHauvin's legal team waived its right to jury determination on these issues so that they will now be argued to the judge. Though I am not an expert on Minnesota law, I believe that a judicial finding of aggravating factors in the coming weeks could make Chauvin eligible to receive a sentence up to the 40-year maximum on the second-degree unintentional murder conviction.

The Robina Institute has this helpful primer on Minnesota sentencing law, and it makes this important point about the usual approach to sentences increased based on aggravating factors under the state's sentencing guidelines:

The Guidelines do not themselves limit the degree of durational (length-of-custody) departure, but case law provides that upward departures may not exceed twice the presumptive prison term (the middle figure in grid cells above the disposition line; the sole figure in cells below the line) except in rare cases of extremely aggravated circumstances. (Cite to:  State v. Evans, 311 N.W.2d 481, 483 (Minn. 1981). See also State v. Jackson, 749 N.W.2d 353 (Minn. 2008) (upholding the rule from Evans despite 27 years of changes to the guidelines).)

April 20, 2021 at 05:20 PM | Permalink


Is consecutive vs concurrent simply up to the judge?

Posted by: Jonny | Apr 21, 2021 10:15:09 AM

In most states, consecutive vs. concurrent is up to the judge.

My understanding from a quick glance at the current Minnesota sentencing guidelines (https://mn.gov/msgc-stat/documents/Guidelines/2020/August2020MinnSentencingGuidelinesCommentary.pdf) are that the guidelines categorize the offenses in this case as eligible for "permissive" consecutive sentences. See pages 59-65, 127-32. In other words, the guidelines do not create a presumption for consecutive or concurrent sentences in this case, and leave that issue to the discretion of the trial. In any case, under the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, state guidelines are not binding, and the appellate court would review any departure from the guidelines sentence for reasonableness.

Posted by: tmm | Apr 21, 2021 11:23:09 AM

Prof Mark Osler, who knows his stuff and is in Minnesota, keeps saying on twitter that Chauvin only gets sentenced for one offense:
"Once again, the sentences won't stack- Chauvin will only be sentenced on Murder 2. MN 609.035(1): "[I]f a person's conduct constitutes more than one offense under the laws of this state, the person may be punished for only one of the offenses..."

Posted by: Doug B. | Apr 21, 2021 3:52:14 PM

In a rational and just world, this verdict will be overturned and a new trial ordered. Wait and see.

Posted by: restless94110 | Apr 21, 2021 7:34:24 PM

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