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Chauvin Verdict Explained

Chauvin Verdict Explained

George Floyd's death shook the nation, and now, the court will hold someone accountable. Let's take a closer look at the Chauvin verdict.

Who Is Chauvin?

Derek Chauvin is a police officer and member of the Minneapolis Police department. Chauvin was allegedly cited several times for police brutality during his years as an officer, but it wasn't until he kneeled on George Floyd's neck for nine minutes that his name became known.

During an arrest over a questionable check, Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck until he stopped struggling. His fellow officers looked on as he continued to apply immense pressure to Floyd's jugular and never attempted to interfere.

When the arrest and subsequent death video surfaced, outraged poured across the U.S. for a summer that rivaled the civil rights era. Since that day, George Floyd has become synonymous with martyr, while Chauvin has become the embodiment of cruelty.

Regardless of how true or false these personifications may be, they are meaningful to a jury all the same.

The Charges

Chauvin faces three charges:

  • Second-degree unintentional murder
  • Third-degree murder
  • Second-degree manslaughter

While they sound similar, each charge carries its own weight and significance.

  • Second-degree unintentional murder alleges that Chauvin caused Floyd's death "without intent" while attempting to commit felony third-degree assault. As a result, the assault evolved into unintentional murder.
  • Third-degree murder means that Chauvin caused Floyd's death by perpetrating an act that is dangerous to others for an extended period which, according to the law, displays a depraved mind and disregard for human life.
  • Second-degree manslaughter refers to the charge that Chauvin caused Floyd's death by gross negligence and creating unreasonable risk.

All three charges point to the idea that Chauvin caused Floyd's death, but the prosecution's argument is whether or not Chauvin's actions were objectively reasonable, if not misguided. This means that they must convince the jury that regardless of the reason for the arrest, Chauvin acted on a violent impulse and followed it through.


In cases like this, there is an emphasis on state of mind. In many criminal cases, there is objective evidence to suggest criminal intent; for example, in an armed robbery, it's hard to argue that the alleged offender was acting on anything but an unlawful motive.

However, in the Chauvin trial, the court has to evaluate intent, and they must do so within the context of the justice system as a whole. Not only is Chauvin a member of the community, but he is also a law enforcement officer. Because of this, his intentions as he fulfilled his duties are critical to proving his guilt and whether the police could have prevented his actions if they'd acted sooner.

Law enforcement officers pledge to defend and protect the people, but proving unjust actions or brutality is extremely difficult.

What Will Happen to Chauvin?

The jury found Chauvin guilty on all counts, which would usually be sentenced with 40, 25, and 10-year sentences consecutively. However, the way Minnesota's sentencing guidelines work, first offenders cannot receive the full brunt of the penalty.

The law recommends 12.5 years in prison for each murder charge and approximately four years for the manslaughter charge, but the judge will decide how those sentences will be served.

During a criminal trial, the judge is responsible for determining how the convicted individual will be sentenced. While the jury may find the defendant guilty, the judge decides how much or how little of the standard punishment will be handed down.

Where We Go From Here

How the Chavin saga will end is still up for debate. While his actions have certainly left their mark on law enforcement nationwide, he will still have to bear some of the weight, even if it's only a few years behind bars. He could be released early for any number of reasons, and until he is out, we'll have to wait and see how it all ends.

The Draskovich Law Firm will continue to follow the story as it develops.


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