How does the federal safety valve work?
2 attorney answers
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The Safety Valve provides for a 2-level reduction to the otherwise applicable sentencing guidelines range, and it allows a court to impose a sentence below any mandatory minimum term of imprisonment if appropriate. The Safety Valve criteria that a defendant must meet are stated in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f) and U.S.S.G. § 5C1.2. Also, the Bail Reform Act requires a district court to detain a defendant who's pled guilty or who was found guilty of a drug crime pending sentencing and imposition of sentence. However, 18 U.S.C. § 3145(c) allows a court to release such defendant for "extraordinary" circumstances. Of course, the district courts around the country vary greatly in their interpretation and employment of the release statute. – Joshua Sabert Lowther, Esq., Atlanta, GA.
There are circumstances where pre-sentencing detention is mandatory, unless the defendant meets some extremely hard-to-meet requirements. See https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/part-II/chapter-207 for the statutes on detention.
The safety valve is at 18 US Code, Section 3553(f) (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/3553) and at US Sentencing Guidelines, Section 5C1.2 (https://www.ussc.gov/guidelines/2018-guidelines-manual/annotated-2018-chapter-5#NaN). Those are the elements required to get any safety valve relief for the time being.
I hope this was helpful. Bon courage and good luck to you all.
This answer DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship, and DOES NOT address the many specific and confidential variables needed to provide adequate legal advice. This answer is ONLY general guidance.