A judge just dropped the 3rd degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin. He still faces a 2nd degree murder charge and a manslaughter charge. This doesn't make sense to me. How can someone face multiple homicide charges for the same killing?

2 Answers 2


The concept is known as lesser included offense. The prosecution believed that they have a chance to prove murder, so they charged murder, but they understood that the judge and jury might not convict on murder. So they said in effect, "and if you won't find him guilty of murder, at least convict for manslaughter."

  • So someone couldn't be found guilty of all 3 for a single killing?
    – Ryan_L
    Oct 22, 2020 at 19:05
  • 2
    I think the link explains it all. In most jurisdictions only the most severe "guilty" verdict counts, but the jury is told that they can find "guilty" on some charges but not all of them.
    – o.m.
    Oct 22, 2020 at 19:08
  • And not all states have it, afaik Oct 22, 2020 at 19:11
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    At about the same time as the OJ Simpson trial, there was another trial against a man who had killed something like 15 people in the underground and injured some more. He was charged with over 40 crimes (each death a combination of 1st and 2nd degree murder and manslaughter). He decided to defend himself, which honestly didn't make much difference in that case. He was convicted of 15 unlawful killings, a mixture of murder and manslaughter. And then he proudly declared that he was found innocent of over 25 charges. So in each case: Multiple charges, but only one conviction.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 22, 2020 at 20:45
  • @gnasher729 Did that affect his sentence in any meaningful way? Oct 23, 2020 at 1:24

Some states have law that three felonies and its life in prison.

  • thre felonies that occur on different occasions - if you steal a car (grand theft), harm the codriver (battery/assault) and ram an ATM with it (attempted bank robbery), that's 3 felonies but one occasion, so just one strike.
    – Trish
    Oct 23, 2020 at 10:21

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