BREAKING: Judge sets up long sentence for Chauvin with aggravating-factors ruling

Court TV via AP, Pool

Bad news for the defense, although they had to see it coming. Even though his second-degree murder conviction carried a potential sentence of 40 years, Derek Chauvin’s status as a first-time offender put him in range for a 12-15 year prison sentence. However, the judge presiding in the trial over the death of George Floyd in police custody ruled this morning that aggravating factors apply — and Chauvin might get a lot closer to that 40-year maximum as a result:

A Minnesota judge has ruled that there were aggravating factors in the death of George Floyd, paving the way for a longer sentence for Derek Chauvin, according to an order made public Wednesday.

In his ruling, Judge Peter Cahill found that Chauvin abused his authority as a police officer when he restrained Floyd last year, and that he treated Floyd with particular cruelty.

Still even with the aggravating factors, legal experts have said, Chauvin is unlikely to get more than 30 years when he is sentenced June 25.

Thirty years is still twice as much as sentencing guidelines indicated prior to this ruling. And now that Cahill has raised those expectations, anything significantly less than thirty, and especially closer to the 12.5-15 year range, will feel like a disappointment.

Still, one has to agree with Cahill’s reasoning on this point, especially after watching the video:

One question that will arise from this ruling will be whether it’s applicable to the other three officers, who will be tried in August. The cruelty findings here are all personal to Chauvin. Two of the other officers also restrained Floyd on the ground, although how and for how long will be an important consideration for Cahill in that trial. The other defendants will have at least one aggravating factor in common with Chauvin, though — acting under color of authority.

That finding does make the Department of Justice’s civil-rights indictment look even more unnecessary and political. That’s precisely the predicate for their indictment — so why duplicate it if Chauvin ends up with a lengthy sentence?

Update: Read the whole ruling here. It’s only six pages long and is a quick read.