Written by attorney John Barto McEntire IV

Federal Criminal Defense - The "Fast Track" Early Disposition Program

The Early Disposition Program (aka “Fast Track") is sexy in theory. In exchange for giving up just a few “unimportant" rights, your client receives a three-level reduction under United States Sentencing Guideline § 5K3.1. Three whole levels!

But in practice, Fast Track is far less appealing. True, there are circumstances where accepting Fast Track might be a smart move. A good example is when your client’s criminal history is insignificant, and his or her offense level is twelve or lower (i.e., no big adjustments for prior aggravated felonies or the like). Under such facts, accepting Fast Track is advantageous because the three-level reduction may place your client in the always-appealing 0-6, 1-7, or 2-8 month ranges, thereby allowing you to argue for a time-served sentence - or something close – by the time sentencing rolls around.

But for clients facing higher sentencing ranges on account of a lengthy criminal history, a high offense level, or both, proceeding with Fast Track is probably not the right move because, by accepting Fast Track, you are locked into advocating for a sentence within that incredibly high guideline range.

Under these circumstances, the better option is to forego Fast Track and focus on all arguments that help obtain a below-guideline sentence.

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