In an earlier post, Federal drug defense attorney John Helms described four ways a person accused of federal drug distribution may get a sentence reduction.
In an earlier post, called “Dallas Drug Possession Lawyer- Getting a Sentence Reduced in Federal Drug Cases,” Federal drug defense attorney John Helms described four ways that a person accused of drug distribution in a federal case can potentially get a reduction of their sentence. This post goes into more detail about how cooperating with the government can potentially do this.
In federal court, drug sentences can be very high, and there are mandatory minimum sentences that may mean your sentence must be at least a certain number of years. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines give judges guidance on a recommended range of months in prison (such as 120-140 months) for a given crime and a person with a given criminal record. In drug cases, the Sentencing Guidelines range mostly depends on the type and quantity of drugs involved, the person’s prior criminal record, and factors such as whether any drugs were imported, whether a gun was possessed in connection with the crime, whether anyone was seriously injured or killed, and whether the person was a leader or organizer of others. Most judges will follow those recommended range of months in most cases.
Federal law provides, though, that the judge can lower the Federal Sentencing Guideline range based on a person’s cooperation with the government. So, for example, a person with a Sentencing Guideline range of 120-140 months might get their Guideline range cut to 60-75 months for cooperation. In addition, and maybe most importantly, federal judges are allowed to sentence someone below the mandatory minimum sentence based on cooperation. So, in most cases, cooperation is by far the best way to reduce your sentence, reports Dallas drug lawyer Helms.
So, what do you have to do, and how much can your sentence be reduced? The Federal Sentencing Guidelines say that, in order to get a reduction, a person must provide “substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense.” This “substantial assistance” can be in connection with the investigation or prosecution of people involved in your case or in connection with a completely unrelated crime of any kind.
In order get the reduction the prosecutor must file a motion with the court asking the court to reduce your Sentencing Guideline range based on the prosecutor’s opinion of how helpful you have been. The judge is not required to agree to what the prosecutor asks, but they usually do.
In order to provide “substantial assistance” and persuade a prosecutor to make this request, you must do something that is actually helpful to the government. This means more than just telling the prosecutor what you know, because if the government already knows what you tell them, then you have not provided any actual help. Even if you tell the government something they do not already know, it must be information that is valuable to them.
Examples of cooperation include:
(1) Providing information that the government does not already know, such as giving the government the names of people unknown to the government who were involved in a crime, helping them find a fugitive, or helping them find money, guns, or other evidence connected to the crime.
(2) Agreeing to testify against others, which can help the government persuade them to plead guilty if they know that a witness is going to testify against them.
(3) Testifying at trial against another person, which can help the government get a guilty verdict at trial.
(4) Participating in a sting operation, which can help the government arrest and convict someone.
The key to providing valuable cooperation is usually to begin cooperating early. If another defendant in your case tells the government something valuable before you do, that person will get the credit, because by the time you tell them, the government will already know it. Similarly, if you agree to testify against others after several other defendants have already agreed to testify, then you have not added much.
This is only an overview. In each case, if you decide to cooperate, you will need your drug defense lawyer to guide you throughout the process by helping you understand what you can and must do to improve your situation, making sure you get credit for what you do, and trying to persuade the prosecutor to ask the judge for as much of a reduction as your cooperation warrants.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a federal drug offense or are facing other drug charges, contact Federal drug defense attorney John Helms immediately. Call 214-666-8010
Read the first article here: “Dallas Drug Possession Lawyer Getting a Sentence Reduced in Federal Drug Cases”