Derek Chauvin Pleads Guilty in Federal Court: What This Means
On December 15, 2021, Derek Chauvin, the ex-officer convicted of 2nd-degree unintentional murder stemming from the death of George Floyd, pled guilty in federal court to two counts of violating the constitutional rights of citizens to be free from unreasonable force by a police officer. This guilty plea was an amendment to his original plea of not guilty. The first charge arose from the actions that directly resulted in the death of George Floyd. The second arose from a 2017 incident where Chauvin exhibited unreasonable force against a 14-year-old boy by holding him by the throat and hitting him repeatedly in the head with a flashlight, as well as kneeling on the boy's neck.
Chauvin had already been convicted in Minnesota State Court and sentenced to 22 and a half years in state prison. However, in Minnesota, an inmate who exhibits "good conduct" is presumed to only have to serve 2/3 of their sentence behind bars, with the remaining 1/3 on parole according to Minn. Stat. 643.29. Therefore, he would likely serve 15 years in prison, with another 7 and a half years on parole.
The federal plea of guilty attaches a possible sentence of up to 33 years, but the prosecutor is expected to request a sentence of 300 months—25 years. Unlike Minnesota state prison, Chauvin will be required to serve roughly 85% of the federal sentence, rather than the 66% in Minnesota. This means that Chauvin will almost certainly be incarcerated for a substantially longer period of time under the federal conviction. In exchange for his admission of guilt, Chauvin is prohibited from ever serving as law enforcement again, but the federal sentence will run concurrently with the state sentence, meaning he will get credit towards both sentences at the same time, rather than having the federal sentence commence upon the completion of the state sentence. Additionally, he will be transferred from the Minnesota state prison to a federal penitentiary where he will likely be less notorious among the prison population.
The guilty plea effectively nullifies any appeal Chauvin’s Minnesota conviction because even if he were to have the conviction overturned, he would still be required to serve his federal sentence.
A sentencing date has not yet been determined by the federal court.
Importantly, the 3 other officers involved in the George Floyd incident, still maintain their innocence and have pending trials in both state and federal court. In state court, the three men face aiding and abetting charges for the murder of Floyd, while they all face an identical charge of violating Floyd's constitutional right to be free from unreasonable force by a police officer.
Check back for updates on this developing story.