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Can my brother get out of going to prison if he has federal charges for "conspiracy to distribute meth" to an undercover cop?

Gainesville, GA |

We went to his court hearing and they said they had evidence that he had given an undercover cop close to 500 grams of meth and they have recordings that he would connect the undercover cop to someone that could given the kilo that he asked him. He has 2 misdeamenor: one arriving late with a minor to her curfew and the other for cruelty to animals (arrest done were rooster flights were taking place). Does he have a chance to plea first offender?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    If in fact he is charged with intending to distribute in excess of 500 grams of meth, he is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to life. If his two misdemeanor convictions result in only 1 criminal history point, which depends on the sentences he received and what exactly the charges were and how old the convictions are, he could qualify for safety valve which allows the judge to sentence based on the guidelines without regard to the mandatory minimum. In other words, this would be a way to get out from under the 10 year mandatory. There is no first offender provision per se in federal court and in all likelihood, given the few facts you have provided, your brother is looking at prison time even as a first offender. He needs to talk to his lawyer to determine how best to proceed.

    This answer is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended as the practice of law in any jurisdiction in which I am not licensed. The answer does not constitute legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The answer is based only on the information provided, and may be inaccurate in the context of additional facts that have not been provided. The questioner should be aware that I am only licensed to practice law in the state and federal courts of Minnesota. Accordingly, before taking any action or refraining from taking any action, the questioner should consult with an attorney licensed to practice in his or her jurisdiction.

  2. Only a lawyer who has reviewed the discovery in your brother's case can give you an opinion about the strength of the governemnt's case. If he is convicted or enters a guilty plea, his sentence will be determined by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. If your brother does not have a lawyer, you need to get him one ASAP.

  3. 21 USC Section 841(b) provides that the possession, possession with the intent to distribute or the distribution of at least 500 grams of a substance or mixture containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine is punishable by a term of imprisonment of no less than 10 years nor more than life. 21 USC Section 846 provides that a person who is convicted of conspiracy to commit that offense is punishable by the penalties in 841(b). However, if convicted, his sentence will be determined in significant part by his advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines range, which is calculated by the Guidelines' consideration of all of the facts and circumstances of the case. In a case involving 500 grams of methamphetamine, that range will be relatively high under any circumstances, and the only way for him to be sentenced below 10 years will be in exchange for his substantial cooperation in the investigation or prosecution of another individual or the "safety valve," which allows persons with no leadership role, no firearm possession and a very limited criminal history (his may or may not be limited, depending on the age of the conviction) to avoid the mandatory minimum penalty. The matter is very complex, and I recommend that he consult with an attorney immediately. Lastly, there is not first offender type treatment in federal criminal cases if the person pleads guilty to an offense; a conviction is just that.

    Joshua Sabert Lowther, Esq.

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