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What's At Stake If Derek Chauvin Changes His Plea To Guilty

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Derek Chauvin is expected to plead guilty Wednesday to federal charges related to the murder of George Floyd.

Chauvin has already been convicted in state court and sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison, but he now faces a life sentence.

The change of plea will happen at the federal courthouse in St. Paul, and it won't be final until Judge Paul Magnuson accepts it.

WCCO spoke about this case with criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who isn't affiliated with the case.

"This will be the first time that Mr. Chauvin, in public, has talked about what happened. He will have to methodically go through why he's guilty, that he knew what he was doing would violate Mr. Floyd's civil rights," Tamburino said.

Derek Chauvin Generic
(credit: CBS)

Members of the Floyd family are expected in court. Among the possibilities of what Chauvin might receive in return for the guilty plea is a lower federal sentence, giving him a chance to not die a prisoner.

He may also get a recommendation to be sent to a federal prison instead of a state prison. Federal prisons are widely seen as a better place to serve a sentence, both in terms of safety and programs available.

"Educational treatment-type programming," Tamburino said. "There are a whole host of programs that different prisoners are allowed to join if they're accepted."

Because of concerns for his safety, Chauvin is currently being held in the state's highest security prison at Oak Park Heights. As part of the plea, he could agree to testify in the federal and state trials of the three other former officers accused in Floyd's death: J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.

The other three have long sought to distance themselves and even pin all the blame on Chauvin. The three will face a federal trial next month in St. Paul, and they will also face a state trial in Hennepin County district court starting in March.

At this point, Chauvin is still appealing his state conviction.

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