Being convicted of a federal crime can be scary, especially when it’s the first time you’ve been charged, and you aren’t sure what to expect. Whether you’ve been convicted of fraud, conspiracy, drug charges, or other crimes, you’ll want to know how much of a federal sentence must be served.
Is there such a thing as federal prison sentence reduction? These are common questions, and most are easily answered, although there are always exceptions to the rule.
After being charged with the crime, your case either went to trial or pled guilty. Now it’s time for the sentencing. This part of the legal process is where federal sentence reduction will occur, if possible. Once you’ve been sentenced, it isn’t easy to reverse. Make sure you have the right lawyer defending you and fighting for the least time in prison.
Can a Federal Prison Sentence be Reduced?
Reducing federal prison sentences isn’t uncommon and is sometimes based largely on cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). A person can cooperate in many ways, including being courteous and answering questions honestly.
The FBI may ask you to provide them with information about your case, testimony about what occurred, or other criminal activity. In rare cases, the FBI may ask you to become a long-term informant if they believe you know of a specific criminal organization.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
In what other ways can a prison sentence be reduced? In addition to cooperation, there are over 100 provisions to federal sentencing guidelines that can get your prison sentence reduced, but they won’t all apply to your case.
How Much of a Federal Sentence Has to Be Served?
Federal judges have limitations in how much they can give a federal prison sentence reduction due to the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which may establish mandatory minimums for certain crimes. In the absence of these mandatory minimums and other laws, a sentence can be reduced as much as possible due to the arguments of a skilled defense attorney who understands mitigating factors.
How to Get a Federal Sentence Reduced: 5 Ways
A federal judge will often have the discretion to give a lighter sentence if mitigating facts and circumstances are worthy of consideration. The judge will apply the specific facts brought to light by your attorney to the Sentencing Guidelines factors to consider. Mitigating facts and circumstances is a legal term that essentially means any facts that could make the crime seem less serious and may lead to a reduction under the Sentencing Guidelines, such as a 2-point sentence reduction. For example…
1. Criminal History
In different cases, a person might have a significant, minor, or nonexistent criminal history, which will all play into the criminal history mitigating factor analysis to reduce a sentence. For example, the crime in question might be the defendant’s first crime ever committed, or the defendant might be a repeat offender who has been convicted before. These circumstances would argue for different lengths of sentences, respectively. Of course, criminal history is only one mitigating factor for the judge to consider. Depending on the facts and circumstances known to your attorney, the attorney will draw the judge’s attention towards those mitigating factors that help you and away from those not in your favor.
2. Diminished Capacity
Diminished capacity might be a mitigating factor if you acted under serious reduced mental capacity, also known as diminished capacity. The diminished capacity must have been a core component of the crime, which rendered the actor unable to achieve the mental state required to commit the crime in question, for example, due to a mental illness or impairment. Notably, deliberate drinking alcohol or taking drugs cannot be used for these arguments.
3. Coercion and Duress
If the crime was committed under duress, or the actor was coerced by force or threat into committing it, a reduced sentence may be available. For this mitigating factor, your attorney must use the facts and circumstances of your case to prove that your will was overcome, by an outside force, which made you commit the crime. For example, a coercion argument could be applicable where a person convicted of assault was told by the mob that they must commit the assault, or else their family would be physically harmed. The fear of harm to self or others that the actor had at the time of committing their crime must be a reasonable fear, in other words, one that the average person would feel if they were in the same or similar situation.
4. Aberrant Behavior
This mitigating factor is applicable if you have committed only one criminal act of limited duration without significant planning. This act can be shown to have been wildly out of character with your otherwise law-abiding life. It is not available for more serious offenses, including significant drug offenses and offenses involving substantial injury, death, or the use of dangerous weapons.
5. Fast Track
If there is a large quantity of evidence and you know you will be pleading guilty, it can be advantageous to enter your plea sooner rather than later. This is known as “fast-tracking,” and it saves the prosecution time and resources from having to fully litigate your case. In exchange, the prosecutor may offer a “plea deal,” or, at the sentencing level before the judge, your attorney can demonstrate that you cooperated with the government in good faith. The federal sentence reduction is based on the idea that you are sparing limited government personnel and resources by pleading guilty without contest, which can be redirected to other aspects of the criminal justice system.
Need a Sentence Reduced? Contact the Law Offices of Seth Kretzer
What’s the best way to leverage federal sentence reduction programs to your benefit? First, hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows the law and can help identify legal ways to reduce your sentence. With over 100 federal sentencing guidelines to cover, a knowledgeable lawyer may find one or more that apply to your case and advocate for you in court. Learning how to get a sentence reduced when you’re facing federal prison time isn’t easy, but it starts with hiring the best criminal defense lawyer for the job.
When looking for a lawyer, you need to consider their experience, knowledge, and history of getting reduced federal sentences. You don’t want to hire someone who is just getting started and may not understand all the nuances of the law.
Your life is in your hands when it comes to reducing a long criminal sentence. So choose wisely when you select a federal criminal defense lawyer.
Contact the Law Offices of Seth Kretzer today to schedule a consultation.