Can a Federal Sentence be Reduced?
If you’ve been convicted of a federal crime, the scariest thing is awaiting the sentence you’ll have to serve. The differences between state and federal crimes depend on a variety of factors like what offenses were involved and where the prosecution occurs, all of which will determine the length of the resulting sentence. In most cases, federal offenses will receive much harsher penalties than PA state crimes, from decades of jail time to tens of thousands of dollars in fines. So if you or someone you know needs to know if and how you can reduce your federal sentence, our team of experienced defense lawyers are here to help.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
When you’re being sentenced in court, the judge will determine the necessary sentencing range for your crime based on the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Assuming there is no mandatory minimum, which in most cases means the judge is required sentence you to that term of imprisonment, a criminal defense lawyer can argue a number of provisions (over 100 exist, but not all will apply to your specific case) on your behalf to reduce your federal sentence. Most of these arguments will need to be made during the sentencing, so don’t wait until it’s too late to have an experienced attorney fighting for you.
How to Get a Federal Sentence Reduced?
Offenders who can offer aid to the federal government in the prosecution of criminals may be presented the opportunity to reduce their sentence; this is known as Rule 35 Reduction. There are two common ways to reduce a federal sentence based on this rule: a method known as “substantial assistance motion,” which is filed before the offender is sentenced and presented during the sentencing trial and a method from the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure, which requires re-sentencing after the initial sentence is made.
Substantial assistance motion makes the request that the court “departs downward,” or consider granting a shorter sentence, based on a number of determining factors, including the value of the defendant’s assistance to the government based on government’s assessment, the truth and dependability of the information received from the defendant, and whether the defendant’s information is immediately helpful. If the court believes the defendant has provided a sufficient amount of help, a motion can then be filed to reduce their sentence. Rule 35 is one case in which a judge has the authority to disregard a mandatory minimum for the sentence.
If substantial assistance doesn’t apply to your case, there are other ways to reduce a federal sentence, some of which include:
- Criminal History: If you have older prior convictions or prior convictions that are not as serious as your criminal history suggests, allowing you to have a sentence based on a lower criminal history level than you actually fall.
- Fast Track: Based on the notion that if you plead guilty in an expedient manner, you’re alleviating the government of having to litigate the case, saving them time and resources.
- Coercion or Duress: Committing a crime under serious coercion or duress could qualify as a legitimate defense during trial, but you must be able to prove that you had reasonable fear of immediate or serious harm or death if the offense was not committed.
- General Mitigation: If any mitigating circumstances were not properly taken into consideration that could potentially offer reason that the crime was not as serious as the guideline range reflects or is appropriate to the history of the defendant.
There are also several programs that can help reduce a federal sentence after the defendant has is sentenced. If you’ve been convicted of a federal crime, it’s important to have an experienced defense attorney who knows all the possible provisions and will fight for you to provide the best chance at reducing your sentence. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.