A lot of these big drug conspiracy cases that are charged, not only are people facing prison, they’re facing mandatory minimums. That’s the killer when it comes to federal drug prosecutions.
There’s a whole chart and a whole table that I go through with my clients when we sit down and meet if they’re charged at the federal level with drug conspiracy or drug-related offenses.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences in Federal Drug Cases
Basically, what it does is, it lays out mandatory minimum sentences for each type of drug that somebody could be caught conspiring to sell, transport and a lot of these mandatory minimums involve a 10-year sentence at 85%.
I think right now, a lot of federal defense attorneys like me are hoping that the new president actually does something about this and gets rid of these mandatory minimums.
Because they are just killing people and it gives the government so much power because there’s only a couple of ways to avoid that mandatory minimum sentence.
Of course, ultimately, it’s up to the judge but sometimes the judge’s hands are tied.
Avoiding a Mandatory 10 year Sentence
If somebody is found guilty or pleading guilty to a charge that carries a 10-year mandatory minimum in federal prison, the judges have to give that sentence unless the defense can come up with an argument to justify not giving it.
There are limited ways that the defense can do that:
- Number one, they could argue what’s called a safety valve, where somebody who doesn’t have much, if any, of a criminal record who is not a leader organizer or a mastermind of a drug conspiracy;
- They are a a low-level player, can make the argument that they should be treated differently than the average offender who’s getting that 10-years. You make the argument for the safety valve. The person has to sit down with the government and at least give them their own involvement in the drug case.
A lot of times the prosecutors will try to push and get more information about other people so they can prosecute when that’s not part of the deal when you sit down for a safety valve proffer and you talk about yourself and you give information about yourself.
Safety Valve Argument
That’s why you have to have your defense attorney at the ready to try to block that type of activity.
Once the prosecutors agree that the person sat down with us and told us information about themselves, they’re not a leader or organizer, then you put yourself in a position to try to get a safety valve argument.
This allows the judge to go below the 10-year mandatory minimum in a federal drug case and you get an additional two levels off your calculation for your offense level, which can definitely help you.
Cooperate with Government
Another way in a big drug conspiracy or drug case when you’re facing a 10-year mandatory minimum to get out of that is to:
- cooperate with the government by giving information about other people, your own involvement and the government feels that your information was beneficial to them, then you put yourself in a pretty strong position to be able to avoid that 10-year mandatory minimum.;
- The government will have to make a motion to the judge saying they believe you shouldn’t get the 10-year mandatory minimum or that you’ve done enough to be able to warrant the 10-year mandatory minimum being removed.
Step number two is the government can also make an argument of what your sentence should be and base that argument on the level of your cooperation. So, they can shave points off your sentence.
They don’t just get you out of the 10 years, they can get your sentence much lower than the 10 years by giving you credit for your cooperation. Some people want to cooperation.
Some people want to cooperate and don’t have a problem with it. Other people don’t want to cooperate under any circumstances. So, it just depends on where you fall.
You have to talk to your federal criminal defense attorney about how you want to deal with this issue. But, if you’re trying to avoid federal prison being served at 85% in a drug case, you need to find the best attorney you can.
Federal Criminal Lawyer for Drug Charges
I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years. I’ve handled many federal drug cases, so I know how they’re handled. I know what it takes to get the gest resolution.
There is a second thing you have to consider is whether you want to cooperate with the government. You have to consider whether or not you can actually beat the government at a jury trial.
If you can, and you’re innocent and you didn’t do it and you’re not involved, that makes it pretty easy. Hire the attorney to do the trial. I’ve done many trials at the federal level and had success.
If on the other hand, the feds have a good case against you, then obviously, instead of fighting them, you’re going to want to work out some sort of a plea bargain.
That’s done through your attorney who, of course, will have years of experience in dealing with the federal authorities and the ramifications of entering a guilty plea in a federal case.
I stand at the ready to help you. I’ve got a lot of experience, having worked for a prosecutorial agency very early in my career, worked for a Superior Court Judge in the early 1990s, and then been the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm since 1994.
Pick up the phone. As for a meeting with Ron Hedding. You’ve come to the right place. I stand at the ready to protect your rights, your reputation and your future.
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