Can I Get my Federal Prison Sentence Reduced for Helping the Federal Government in a Case?: Federal Attorney talks Reduction of Prison Sentence After Aiding the Government in a Federal Case

federal government investigators are at the scene of a federal crime in South FloridaCan your sentence be reduced if you help the federal government in a case?

Yes! It is possible to get your prison sentence reduced by cooperating with the federal government on a case.

It depends, however, on how much information is provided to the government. If you, the defendant, provide the government with substantial assistance, it is possible that your federal prison sentence can be reduced.

According to the United States Department of Justice, Rule 35(b) motions “for downward departure of a sentence based upon, but not limited to, such factors as the defendant providing substantial assistance, his or her criminal conduct in the instant case, and the defendant’s role in the alleged offense” (United States Department of Justice, n.d.). A downward departure means that the defendant might be able to have a “lesser” prison sentence - A downward departure is when a judge “departs” or goes below the lowest prison sentence allowable.

With Rule 35(b), the defendant’s sentence can even be reduced after they were already sentenced. Also, a 5k motion can occur prior to the sentencing period. 


5k Motion Qualifications

The defendant’s possible federal prison sentence can be reduced based upon the court’s evaluation of how useful and assistive the defendant’s compliance was. 

In addition to the nature of extent, reliability, truthfulness, and completeness of the information provided is also a factor. In addition, it matters if the timeline of events as testified by the defendant is accurate. Also, if the defendant experienced bodily harm or injury during the investigative process, their sentence might have a higher likelihood of being reduced.


Rule 35(B) Qualifications

After 1 year in prison, the defendant is potentially eligible for a reduction in their sentencing. The qualifications depend on whether the defendant had no prior knowledge of the information before the first year of their sentence, information was provided by the defendant after the first year of their sentence, and if the information was deemed useful by the government after the defendant’s first year in prison.


Who Files Both Motions to get Federal Prison Sentences Reduced?

The prosecutor files the substantial assistance reduction motions. The defendant’s criminal defense attorney, however, can also negotiate cooperation with the federal prosecutors. In addition, the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer can also negotiate for the defendant’s safety upon his/her cooperation with the government. This also includes the safety and well-being of the defendant’s family.


Examples of Rule 35(b) & 5k Motion

Imagine this:

After being sentenced for a federal wire fraud crime, Josh has knowledge of another federal crime and would like to work with the government to give his testimony.

It has only been 6 months since his prison sentence, however. Unfortunately for Josh, this means he would not qualify for Rule 35(b) since it has not been 1 year or longer since his sentence. 

In addition, Josh has little knowledge of the different crimes, so his assistance was not substantive. 

Here is a second scenario:

On another note, Maddison was charged with a federal drug crime and she also has knowledge of racketeering and drug trafficking

She is able to indicate a timeline of events to federal investigators, and can share what she witnessed in relation to these other crimes while she was illegally purchasing drugs and substances on several separate occasions. 

With her testimony and photos posted on social media (with numerous individuals tagged), and a photo of the outside of the home, the federal government found her assistance substantial and the projected sentencing phase was reduced. Maddison’s experience is  an example of the 5k motion in application.


Other Benefits of Reduced Federal Sentences

Offering a reduced federal criminal sentence to defendants allows for more cooperation between offenders and the government, and the defendant’s testimony or evidence can better be used to help convict other individuals for different cases. 

In addition, the reduction period for the sentencing can be significantly reduced. 

With such, a friend or family member of the defendant who helped the government can also possibly have their sentence reduced, placed on probation, or be transferred to a jail instead. 

Free Federal Defense Consultation in South Florida 

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