What is "Safety Valve" in Federal Sentencing?

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What is "Safety Valve" in Federal Sentencing?

In short, "safety valve" allows a federal criminal defendant charged with certain drug offenses to be sentenced below a minimum mandatory if the requirements of the statute are met. It is one of the only ways, short of providing cooperation with the federal government, that a defendant can avoid the often life shattering minimum mandatories in the federal system

18 U.S.C. §§ 3553(f)(1-5) states notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the case of an offense under section 401, 404, or 406 of the Controlled Substances Act or section 1010 or 1013 of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, the court shall impose a sentence pursuant to guidelines promulgated by the United States Sentencing Commission under section 994 of title 28 without regard to any statutory minimum sentence, if the court finds at sentencing that:

  • the defendant does not have more than 1 criminal history point, as determined under the sentencing guidelines, §3553(f)(1);
  • the defendant did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon (or induce another participant to do so) in connection with the offense, §3553(f)(2);
  • the offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person, §3553(f)(3);
  • the defendant was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others in the offense, as determined under the sentencing guidelines and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise, as defined in section 408 of the Controlled Substances Act, §3553(f)(4); and
  • not later than the time of the sentencing hearing, the defendant has truthfully provided to the Government all information and evidence the defendant has concerning the offense or offenses that were part of the same course of conduct or of a common scheme or plan, but the fact that the defendant has no relevant or useful other information to provide or that the Government is already aware of the information shall not preclude a determination by the court that the defendant has complied with this requirement, §3553(f)(5).

​If You Have Any Questions Regarding Federal Criminal Defense

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