Derek Chauvin Out On Bail
Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin is out on bail and is legally allowed to leave the state of Minnesota. You may remember him for kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter this May. The bail reportedly cost $1,000,000, which he attained through a bail agency.
Bail is legally defined as the ability of the accused to leave the custody of law enforcement, presuming they have paid enough of a deposit, which ensures to the courts that they plan to return for the trial. In Chauvin’s case, he (or someone else - at this point it's unclear) reportedly had to pay at least $100,000 to a bail agency in exchange for them to pay the balance owed. So, he is legally free until the date of his trial, which is expected to take place on March 8th.
The existence of bail has sparked a lot of outrage. Many poor defendants are unable to afford bail and are thus stuck in jail for months at a time, whereas someone like Chauvin can commit an egregious murder and still walk free. However under U.S. law, Chauvin is innocent until proven guilty in court, even if obvious evidence stands against him. As a result, like all American citizens, he is offered the ability to pay bail. To add insult to injury, Chauvin’s lawyer has even gone on record to admit that his central strategy in helping Chauvin win the case is to pin the blame on the negligence and recklessness of the other officers at the scene who failed to stop Chauvin. Among these officers are Thomas Lane, who was only four days into his job.
The news of Chauvin’s bail has caused outrage among a variety of people and has even sparked many protests. The Minnesota protests for Black Lives Matter, which had died down, were reignited the night of the officer’s release. However, many protesters were arrested, and by 10:30 a police order to stop all protests was released.
As of October 22nd, Judge Peter Cahill dropped Chauvin’s third degree murder charge, but has upheld the second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter chargers against Chauvin. Within the US Court Systems, different states have different understandings of the degrees of murder. For example, Minnesota defines first-degree murder as direct premeditation with the intent of killing, whereas second-degree murder is often more “unintentional”. Third degree murder is generally used as a charge when the perpetrator was in a “depraved state of mind.”
For Chauvin to serve a sentence, all the prosecution has to do is prove that Chauvin did intend harm upon Floyd. In addition to the murder charges, Cahill is upholding charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder amongst Chauvin’s colleagues who were also at the scene, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. All four officers are expected to be tried sometime in March 2021.