22.5 years

Derek Chauvin's accumulated prison sentence for murdering George Floyd.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JUNE 25: Jordan and Royal Pacheco take a picture of their grandmother Evely...
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Originally Published: 

Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 21 years in prison for violating George Floyd's civil rights

Update July 7: Derek Chauvin was sentenced Thursday to just over 20 years in prison by a federal judge for violating George Floyd’s civil rights, a federal charge. He was previously sentenced to 22.5 years in prison after being convicted on state charges. Chauvin’s federal sentence will be served concurrently to the state sentence, and he will be moved to a federal prison to serve his time. He was credited with time served, so he could spend about 20 more years behind bars, though he’s eligible for parole in 17. Our original story about Chauvin pleading guilty to violating Floyd’s civil rights appears below.

Earlier this year, former Minneapolis police office Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder of George Floyd. You might think that with this conviction and his sentence of 22.5 years in prison, Chauvin’s time in court is over. However, Chauvin was found guilty only by the state of Minnesota and still has an ongoing federal case. On Wednesday, Chauvin officially changed his federal plea to guilty for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Following his April conviction, Chauvin had first pleaded not guilty to federal charges back in September. The charges, which were filed in May, included two counts stating that Chauvin deprived Floyd of his rights to be free from unreasonable seizure and unreasonable force by a police officer — specifically, kneeling on his neck while he was already restrained and then failing to provide medical care.

Chauvin wasn’t the only one to face federal charges. Two of the former officers who were with Chauvin that day also had charges filed against them for failing to intervene. According to NPR, federal charges are pretty rare because they have a high legal bar to clear: Prosecutors have to prove that Chauvin “willfully” deprived Floyd of his civil rights, and also that his force was “constitutionally unreasonable.”

The charges were welcomed by Minnesota officials, though. “The federal government has a responsibility to protect the civil rights of every American and to pursue justice to the fullest extent of federal law,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in May. “Federal prosecution for the violation of George Floyd's civil rights is entirely appropriate.”

So, if Chauvin pleaded not-guilty to these charges only a few months ago, why did he change his mind? The answer is simple: He’s most likely trying to avoid spending any extra time in jail.

If Chauvin kept his not-guilty plea, his federal case would have gone to trial. And as the Associated Press explained, that likely would’ve extended the amount of time he was already spending in custody. With this new plea, Chauvin could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, but that time will run concurrent to his state sentence, so overall his time behind bars will only be extended by about two years.