Learn How to Avoid a 10-Year Mandatory Minimum Sentence in a Federal Drug Case
I say big drug cases because when you're looking at 10 plus years, that's big to somebody in their life and their future. Nobody wants to get that 10-year mandatory minimum, so I talk here a little bit about how to avoid that.
These laws came into play in the 1980s Ronald Regan was the present and they really put some tough drug laws on the books. Some of that has been retracked a bit but there's still a 10-year mandatory minimum for most drugs. Believe it or not, the amount of drugs that's necessary to trigger that 10-year mandatory minimum is not that much.
Safety Valve and Federal Sentencing
So, the way that you avoid the 10-year mandatory minimum, number one would be is to try to get what's called “the safety valve,” where you have no criminal record.
You're not a major player in the drug transaction that you're arrested for. You have to sit down with the government and at least give the information about yourself.
There's a number of different things that are required to get the safety valve. But if you can get it then your attorney can argue that the judge can below the 10-year mandatory minimum.
Also, if it's granted, you will be given an additional two levels off your offense level, and that's very helpful in some of these big drug cases.
There's obviously other things you want to look at, like whether or not you played a minor role in the crime. That's another area to avoid the 10-year mandatory minimum, and that's giving what's called cooperation of the government.
Cooperation with the Government
It means to give them information about:
- other people,
- potentially agreeing to testify, and
- ultimately testifying.
These are ways to avoid that 10-year mandatory minimum, because what they will do is, the government will give you what's called a 5K departure.
This means if they grant that, the judge is able to go below the 10-year mandatory minimum and then the government will typically, at sentencing, make a recommendation as to what they think the sentence should be.
Probation Department and Sentencing Memorandum
The probation department will weigh-in as well with the report and recommendation as to what they think the sentence should be, and finally, your defense lawyer will file his or her own sentencing memorandum to try to:
- (1) get you below the 10-year mandatory minimum if you have a case where you're looking at more than 10 years; and
- (2) obviously, try to get you the lowest possible sentence by using the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to your advantage.
You would also be entitled to make a statement at any federal sentencing. Obviously, that's something you want to do after consulting with your attorney.
So, there are definitely ways to get around that 10-year mandatory minimum. They are very serious about the 10-year mandatory minimum in drug cases.
Function of Federal Criminal Courts
I think what you have to realize is that one of the main functions of the federal criminal court is to
- (1) punish people who are involved in drug trafficking activities — especially on a large scale;
- (2) protect the public; and
- (3) of course, they're going to look at the specific defendant and see where he/she fits in as it relates to a potential sentence for their case.
I've been doing this for 26 years now. I've handled federal cases all over the nation.
I know what it takes to get below that 10-year mandatory minimum.
I'll give it to you straight. Pick up the phone. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding and I'll do everything I can to help you.
Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0994.