How Should Derek Chauvin Be Sentenced?

Among the best blogs is Professor Doug Berman’s Sentencing Law & Policy blog. This is one of his recent posts:

As reported in this local article, headlined “Prosecutors seek aggravated sentence against Derek Chauvin, argue George Floyd was ‘treated with particular cruelty’,” the sentencing phase of the prosecution of the former police office convicted of killing George Floyd is now at the first briefing stage.  Here are the basics:

Prosecutors asked a judge Friday to give Derek Chauvin a longer prison sentence for killing George Floyd, arguing that the crime was particularly cruel….

Chauvin will be sentenced on June 25. Minnesota sentencing guidelines suggest that an individual without any prior criminal history should be sentenced to 12.5 years in prison for second-degree murder. However, prosecutors have signaled their intent for months to seek an aggravated sentence against Chauvin.

If Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill grants the prosecution’s request, Chauvin could face a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank argued in a 26-page memorandum that an aggravated sentence is warranted because Floyd was a “particularly vulnerable victim” and “treated with particular cruelty.” Frank also said Chauvin “abused his position of authority,” committed the crime with three or more others and in front of children.

Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson filed a 10-page memorandum Friday opposing the prosecution’s ask, arguing against each of their five points. Nelson wrote that Floyd being handcuffed did not make him “particularly vulnerable.” Nelson pointed to how Floyd was over 6 feet tall and weighed more than 200 pounds and said he was resisting arrest.

Here are links to these new filings with their opening paragraphs:

State’s Memorandum of Law In Support of Blakely Aggravated Sentencing Factors

The State respectfully requests an aggravated sentence for Defendant Derek Chauvin, a former police officer convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of George Floyd.  See Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004)Minn. Stat. § 244.10Minn. R. Crim. P. 7.03.  The facts proven beyond a reasonable doubt at trial demonstrate that five aggravating factors support an upward sentencing departure.

Defendant’s Memorandum of Law Opposing Upward Durational Departure

On April 20, 2021, a jury convicted Defendant Derek Michael Chauvin of all three counts alleged in the Complaint against him in connection with the death of George Floyd: unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.  The State has moved for an upward sentencing departure, alleging that facts support five different reasons for which the Court may impose an aggravated sentence.  Mr. Chauvin, through his attorney Eric J. Nelson, Halberg Criminal Defense, submits the following in opposition to an upward durational sentencing departure.

1 thought on “How Should Derek Chauvin Be Sentenced?

  1. There are clearly aggravating factors to be considered. Floyd was handcuffed, prone and under control of 3 officers. Despite that, Chauvin’s continued to kneel on him for at least 3-4 minutes after he lost consciousness and was likely already dead, which not only speaks to vulnerability, but also to excessive cruelty. Then you have the fact that Chauvin, along with the other officers, occupied a position of trust, another aggravating factor. The crime was committed in the presence of children, another factor.

    As for sentence, departures are largely subjective, generally upward departures are limited to twice the Guidelines sentence. Although beginning with a sentence imposed by Judge Michael Davis when he was a State judge, the Supreme Court has upheld sentences to the statutory maximum for extreme cruelty. I believe that Judge Cahill will impose a sentence that is double that called for by the Guidelines or 25 years calling for Chauvin to serve just over 16 years in prison. The Interstate Compact will be invoked and Chauvin will serve his time out of Minnesota and likely under an assumed name and in Administrative Segregation, I.e. protective custody.


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