Politics - News Analysis
Chauvin Faces Big Trouble: Prosecutors Going for Extended Sentence ‘Aggravating Circumstances’
Once the jury renders a verdict and a judgment is entered by the court, defense attorneys immediately turn their attention to one issue alone. No, not an appeal. They start investigating and planning for sentencing, attempting to get the most lenient sentence possible. There is time to work on appeal issues later, but no one assumes that their appeal will succeed, thus sentencing is a huge issue.
The trouble for defense attorneys is that the prosecution does the exact same thing.
The state must offer some kind of sentencing recommendation based both on the law and on an underlying investigation, usually by probation and parole officers, but not always. Most states and certainly the federal government have some kind of sentencing guidelines. The statutes can say a “minimum of ten years, a maximum of forty,” but sentencing is usually further refined by “guidelines” that factor into each case individually. The guidelines take into account one’s prior record, one’s background, medical issues, and the context of the crime itself. The prosecution comes up with their recommendation and the defense attorneys propose theirs.
Convicted Derek Chauvin faces the worst-case scenario. Prosecutors are seeking a sentence that goes above the guidelines. They base their position on what are called “aggravating factors,” facts within the crime proven to deserve extra punishment.
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According to NBC News:
“Defendant continued to maintain his position atop Mr. Floyd even as Mr. Floyd cried out that he was in pain, even as Mr. Floyd exclaimed 27 times that he could not breathe, and even as Mr. Floyd said that Defendant’s actions were killing him,” prosecutors wrote. They added that he stayed in position as Floyd cried out for his mother, stopped speaking and lost consciousness.
“Defendant thus did not just inflict physical pain. He caused Mr. Floyd psychological distress during the final moments of his life, leaving Mr. Floyd helpless as he squeezed the last vestiges of life out of Mr. Floyd’s body,” prosecutors wrote.
Powerful. And of course the defense will claim that those facts remain unproven. But it is all on video. It is one of those rare crimes in which every second is documented, and the horrific description above seems spot on.
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