Now that disgraced former police officer, Derek Chauvin, has been found guilty on all charges, what happens next in the case? First, the defense can file motions to set aside the verdict and for a new trial. The defense would have to demonstrate some serious problem with the trial procedure or the jury conduct or deliberations, which raises a question as to the validity of the verdict. These motions are very rarely granted, but if there is a colorable argument to support them, then a competent defense lawyer must vigorously advocate for the client – even if that client is named Derek Chauvin. Prior to a sentencing hearing, the court typically orders a pre-sentence report, which contains information on the history and characteristics of the defendant, the nature and circumstances of the offense, victim impact statements and other information. This report is designed to assist the court in reaching a fair sentence, and it is reviewed by the court and the parties prior to the sentencing hearing. At the sentencing hearing, each side is given the right to speak, and witnesses and victims can make statements to the court. The judge will typically consider all of this information and any sentencing guidelines, which create an advisory sentencing range based upon the facts of the case, any prior criminal history of the defendant, and other factors. The judge can sentence above, below, or within the recommended guideline range. In the Chauvin case, the advisory sentencing guidelines call for a 12 year prison term. However, the maximum penalty that the court could impose is 40 years in prison. Once a sentence is imposed, the defendant has the right to a direct appeal to challenge the conviction and the sentence imposed. We will discuss the appeal process in the future.
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