I have helped the government convict around 8 defenders from high level to low level, and this is my first offense. It is a conspiracy charge that carries a mandatory minimum of 5 years. I did testify against one defendant also which some of my co defendants also did and all got 3 year reductions. I have been on pre trial for 2 1/2 years in that time I have started a family and my own business will the judge consider my good behavior and aa multitude of character letters.
Your lawyer is in the best position to judge the many variables at play. Your exact offense matters, as does the nature of the larger conspiracy, the Government's presentation and the judge's weighing of substantial assistance (which you don't want to discuss publicly), the judge's general sentencing proclivities, and yes, your post-offense rehabilitation. But that woeful list doesn't start to cover all sentencing considerations, so talk to your lawyer about your concerns. Also remember, some offense statutes and Class A and B felonies are ineligible for probation sentences. But still talk to your lawyer.
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.
A district court has the authority to impose a non-custodial sentence in any case in which the offense of conviction is not punishable by a mandatory term of imprisonment, and even in those cases if the defendant is either eligible for the Safety Valve (18 U.S.C. § 3553(f) and U.S.S.G. § 5C1.2), or the defendant's cooperation is substantial and the court grants the Government's motion to reduce the sentence that otherwise would be or has been imposed (18 U.S.C. § 3553(e), and U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1 or Fed. R. Crim. P. 35). However, the district court is not obligated to impose just a term of probation in these circumstances, and even if it does, that sentence must withstand an appellate review for reasonableness. Therefore, your attorney likely means that a sentence of probation is possible, but unlikely; of course, I don't know any more facts about the case than those included in your question. – Joshua Sabert Lowther, Esq., Atlanta, GA.
As already noted, it may be that your attorney thinks even with all the mitigating factors, the facts of your case and record may be such that probation is unrealistic to expect, and your attorney is trying not to get your hopes up or give you unrealistic expectations.
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