Legal experts explain why a lenient sentence for Derek Chauvin is unlikely

Legal experts explain why a lenient sentence for Derek Chauvin is unlikely

Derek Chauvin's trial in connection with the May 25, 2020 killing of George Floyd reached a dramatic conclusion when, on April 20, the former Minneapolis police officer was found guilty of three charges: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Judge Peter Cahill hasn't set a sentencing date, and it remains to be seen how much time the 45-year-old Chauvin will spend in prison. But according to legal experts interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, it is unlikely that the sentence will be lenient.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison for the most serious of the three charges: second-degree murder, although sentencing guidelines in Minnesota recommend a sentence in the range of 11-15 years for the crimes he was found guilty of. Rachel Barkow, a professor at the New York University Law School, told the Journal that the prosecution has a strong case for a stiffer sentence than what is recommended in those guidelines.

Matthew Galluzzo, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor based in New York City, told the Journal that Cahill is "probably going to have to punish him a little more harshly, if for no other reason than to send a message and deter other people."

WSJ reporter Laura Kusisto notes, "Attorneys also said the high-profile nature of the case is likely to create pressure on the judge to mete out a harsh sentence" — adding that "legal experts were more divided about Mr. Chauvin's prospects of success on appeal."

"Some said the trial was riddled with issues that could endanger the prosecution's victory, including whether the riots after the killing of Daunte Wright by a Minneapolis police officer and comments by Rep. Maxine Waters intimidated the jury," Kusisto explains. "Defense lawyer Eric Nelson repeatedly asked to move the case out of Minneapolis, arguing that the air of tension in Hennepin County made it difficult for jurors to render a fair verdict out of fear for their own safety."

Galluzzo, however, told the Journal, "I think the defense was allowed to present their case."

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