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Feb. 14 2017

How to Reduce Your Sentence in Federal Criminal Case

Posted By: Sami Azhari

How to Reduce Your Sentence in Federal Criminal Case

A federal crime occurs when the offender breaks a law that was implemented based on federal legislation. No matter what state you are in across the United States, if you break a federal law, it will result in the same type of punishment, regardless of location. Federal crimes range in severity, from illegally downloading music, to bank robbery and drug trafficking. There are 43 levels of offense severity, thus, the more serious the crime, the higher the offense severity it will be.

In order to determine the severity for sentencing of a federal crime, the crime is assigned a base level at which to first assess it. When base level offenses are being assessed, generally attorneys representing the government will argue for enhancements to the sentence, by highlighting the seriousness of the type of crime in order to put it in a higher base offense level category, or by pointing to a criminal history, specific offense characteristics, as well as any adjustment factors. The defense will counter any of these factors in an effort to depart from a higher base level offense and which results in a longer sentence, by showing the defendant’s role was less involved than others or by noting a non-existent criminal history prior to the federal crime.

How to Reduce Your Sentence

Once you receive your sentence for the conviction of a federal crime, there a few federal rules that may help you reduce your mandatory minimum sentence and help you get out of prison and back to a normal life sooner. In order to achieve a reduced sentence, the government must make a motion within one year of the sentencing to reduce the sentence, if the offender provided substantial assistance in an investigation or in the prosecution of another person. Rule 35 Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. If an offender provides substantial assistance under Rule 35, the court may then reduce his sentence to a level below that given for minimum mandatory sentencing. When determining whether substantial assistance was provided in a manner which warrants a sentence reduction, the court will also look at the offenders behavior and assistance in the trial phase.

Additionally, if the offender’s sentence has not yet been imposed and he is asked to cooperate with the government, generally in the form of a plea agreement, the sentence may be reduced. Under Section 5K1.1of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, if the motion is granted by the presiding judge, the offender’s proposed sentence is usually reduced around two levels, or around 15% less than the original length proposed. Under this rule as well, if the guideline sentence is below the minimum mandatory requirement, then the judge can sentence at the guideline range, which may be much less than originally anticipated.