Chauvin is charged with second-degree manslaughter, third-degree murder and second-degree murder. He could be convicted on all charges, some or none at all.
The case boils down to two key questions: whether Chauvin caused Floyd’s death and whether his actions were reasonable. Each charge requires a different proof of Chauvin’s state of mind.
How the charges against Chauvin are compared
For all three charges, prosecutors had to prove that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death and that his use of force was unreasonable.
Prosecutors did not have to prove that Chauvin’s restraint was the sole cause of Floyd’s death, but only that his behavior was a “significant causal factor.” Chauvin is authorized to use force as a police officer, as long as that force is reasonable.
To condemn any of these points, jurors must establish that Chauvin used a level of force that would be unreasonable to an objective police officer in his position. Looking back cannot be a factor.
The charges vary when it comes to Chauvin’s state of mind, because second-degree murder requires a certain level of intent, not intent to kill, but that Chauvin intended to use unlawful force on Floyd until the murder, which requires evidence of guilty negligence.
What is second-degree manslaughter?
It is also called aggravated murder. To prove this count of the indictment, prosecutors had to show that Chauvin killed Floyd while committing or attempting to commit the crime in this case, a third-degree assault. They did not have to prove that Chauvin intended to kill Floyd, but only that he intended to use unlawful force that inflicted bodily harm.
What about third-degree murder?
Because of this point, jurors must discover that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death by an action that was “extremely dangerous” and carried out with reckless neglect and conscious indifference to the loss of life.
And second-degree murder?
Prosecutors had to show that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death through wrongful negligence that created an unreasonable risk and that he knowingly risked inflicting severe injury or death.
What does Chauvin face if convicted?
Each count provides for a different maximum sentence: 40 years for second-degree manslaughter, 25 years for third-degree murder, and 10 years for second-degree murder.
But according to Minnesota sentencing guidelines, for a person with no criminal record, any murder charge contains a presumed prison sentence of 12 1/2 years, while murder has a presumed sentence of four years.
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence that goes beyond the scope of the guidelines. They cited several aggravating factors, including that Floyd was particularly vulnerable, that Chauvin was a uniformed police officer acting in a position of authority, and that his alleged crime was witnessed by several children, including a 9-year-old girl who testified she was watching the restraint. is “sad and a little crazy.”
Chauvin waived the right for the jury to decide whether there were aggravating factors. So, if convicted, Judge Peter Cahill will make that decision and impose Chau’s subsequent sentence. In Minnesota, defendants typically serve two-thirds of their prison sentences and the remainder on parole.