Punishment for federal criminal offenses can be harsh. If you are charged with a federal crime it is important to hire an attorney with experience with and knowledge of the federal sentencing guidelines.
Many offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences which is a minimum sentence that a judge must impose. For example a drug offense may carry a minimum 10 year sentence up to life in prison. The Safety Valve was enacted to provide relief for harsh mandatory minimum sentences.
The safety valve is set forth in 5C1.2 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. It is important to note that the safety valve only applies to federal drug offenses. It provides relief from the mandatory minimum sentence if the defendant has little to no criminal history (which is defined as 0 or 1 criminal history points) and if the defendant truthfully discloses everything he knows about the crime he committed prior to sentencing. The defendant must meet the following criteria to be eligible for the safety valve:
(1) the defendant does not have more than 1 criminal history point, as determined under
the sentencing guidelines;
(2) 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;
(3) the offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person;
(4) 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 SubstancesAct; and
(5) 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.
If a defendant is eligible for the safety valve, the sentencing judge has the ability to sentence under the mandatory minimum sentence. It is imperative if you or someone you know is charged with a federal crime to contact an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to defend and guide you through this complicated process.