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Derek Chauvin: what was he convicted of and when will he be sentenced for the murder of George Floyd?

The Independent logo The Independent 25/06/2021 Bethany Dawson and Louise Hall
a man wearing a suit and tie: Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, listens to verdicts at his trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd - AP © AP

Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, listens to verdicts at his trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd

- AP

Officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty for the murder of George Floyd a year after he was recorded kneeling on his for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

The trial of Chauvin has been considered one of the most important civil rights cases in a generation, with Floyd’s family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, saying it marked a "turning point in history" for the US.

After just one day of deliberation on the verdict, the 12-member jury in Minnesota found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

Chauvin’s bail was immediately revoked and the former Minneapolis police officer has remained in custody in a maximum security prison until his sentencing, set to take place on Friday, 25 June.

What do these charges mean?

Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on three different charges despite pleading not guilty in the death of Floyd.

In Minnesota, second-degree murder is defined as a killing that was not premeditated, or is caused by reckless conduct without obvious concern for human life.

Third-degree murder is known as a “depraved-heart murder”, that is caused without intent to kill but is inherently dangerous and thus conducted without consideration for human life.

The final charge that Chauvin has been found guilty of is second-degree manslaughter, which occurs when a person continues an act that they know is reckless, despite potentially fatal risks. A manslaughter charge, however, comes when there is no intention to take a life.

It is expected that Chauvin will appeal the jury, arguing they were not impartial and prejudiced by media coverage and a $27 million (£19.3 million) settlement to the Floyd family from the Minneapolis government.

Chauvin’s attorneys will have to notify the trial court within 60 days if they plan to appeal. His lawyers then have months to review transcripts and court filings dating from the start of the case to build their arguments.

Legal experts have however said that Chauvin’s chance of overturning this verdict is slim. However, legal experts have predicted that if Chauvin is sentenced to more than 30 years, he could have more chance of overturning the verdict on appeal.

How will Chauvin be sentenced?

In Minnesota, the state wherein Floyd died and Chauvin has been on trial for his death,  state law dictates that the convicted is sentenced only to the most severe count against them.

Chauvin’s most serious severe count, second-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

However, the presumptive sentence for a murder charge for a defendant who, like Chauvin, has no prior criminal history is 12 and a half years.

But prosecutors have asked for Judge Peter Cahill to take into consideration other aggravating factors in pursuit of a longer sentence such as Chauvin’s position of authority and the fact that children were present.

Mr Cahill has since ruled that there are aggravating factors in Floyd’s death, leading legal experts to predict that the maximum sentence Chauvin would face is 30 years.

Anything longer would be more likely to be overturned on an appeal, which Chauvin is expected to pursue.

The former police officer still faces trial on federal civil rights charges, along with three other fired officers who have yet to have their state trials.

The official sentencing will not be known until it is handed down on 25 June at 1.30pm local time (7.30pm BST), after the proceedings were delayed from 16 June.

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