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The federal prosecutor is telling me I will not get safety valve until I rat everyone I know out. Is that true?

Chicago, IL |

The federal prosecutor is telling me I will not get safety valve until I rat everyone I know out. Is that true?

Attorney Answers 7


  1. You are not entitled to any breaks unless the federal prosecutor chooses to give them to you. If you ave not already done so, hire a lawyer with experienced in federal criminal defense. Then speak only to your lawyer about your case.


  2. Consult and retain an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer ASAP. I suggest that any communication with the prosecution that is not via your attorney is extremely problematic. Safety Value is an important aspect of your potential sentencing. Again, your attorney should guide and advise you through this. Avvo is an important forum but does not and can not substitute for representation.

    Of course, every answer or response is based on the information provided in the question asked and requires a much more complete context than is available in this public forum. This answer/response should NOT be relied upon to make any legal decisions. Seek the advice of an experienced Federal and/or state criminal defense attorney in your jurisdiction BEFORE you say or do anything.


  3. The "Safety Valve," which is codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f) and incorporated into the US Sentencing Guidelines at § 5C1.2, requires that the defendant (1) not have more than one criminal history point as determined in Chapter 4 of the Guidelines; (2) did not use violence, credible threats of violence, a firearm, or other dangerous weapon during 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 in the offense; and (5) the defendant "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…." Therefore, a defendant's Safety Valve eligibility depends upon whether the defendant has truthfully provided all information known to the defendant by the time of sentencing, not whether the information provided satisfies the government. The defendant's attorney must be familiar with every fact and aspect of the case to defend the truthfulness of the defendant's position if the government alleges that the defendant is not truthful or completely forthcoming. - Joshua Sabert Lowther, Esq., National Federal Defense Group.


  4. Go with your attorney's position on how much and when you reveal it. As Mr. Lowther indicated, you certainly can give the AUSA the story. If that prosecutor does not sponsor your departure, your attorney sure can fight for it at sentencing. This is not the end of the story.


  5. This is a very delicate area. The prosecutor's position is important, but not always dispositive. You need experienced federal defense counsel to advise you.

    The response I have provided is general in nature, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. My practice is based in Rhode Island, and the law and practice in other states or jurisdictions may be different.


  6. The answers above are right on target. There is a difference between a "Safety Valve" and departure under Sentencing Guideline 5K for "Substantial Assistance" where the government's opinion regarding the value of your cooperation is a factor.

    The information provided in this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and is not considered to be legal advice. Mr. Leroi answers questions on Avvo because he strongly believes in public service from his years as a judge, magistrate, and prosecutor. If you need to ask any follow up questions because my answer did not fully address your question, feel free to call Chris or post an additional question. Thank you.


  7. Mr. Lowther's answer is spot on but I want to add one additional bit of advice also given by other writers. Do not communicate with the prosecutor without your attorney and fully discuss with your lawyer the facts in your case so that jointly you come up with a strategic plan to address the prosecutor's demand and position.
    Good luck.

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