Truthful Information for Reduced Sentences.

Whether someone provides “truthful information” to qualify for a reduced sentence under the safety valve is not up to the government, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held on August 21, 2020. U.S. v. Lima-Rivero, 19-10759 (5th Cir. Aug. 21, 2020). 

After pleading guilty to possession of methamphetamine, the defendant provided information to the government in an attempt for a lower sentence under the safety valve, which allows a court to go below a mandatory minimum sentence if a defendant meets several criteria.

One of those criteria is that the defendant must provide “all information and evidence [he has] concerning the offense” to the government. In this case, the DEA agent testified that the defendant was “less than forthcoming” and didn’t qualify for the safety valve. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas denied the safety valve, reasoning that “I think it’s up to the government to determine if the defendant has complied” with the safety valve provision.

But the judge was wrong: it’s not up to the government at all. Under 18 U.S.C. s. 3553(f)(5), it is the court’s responsibility to determine all the criteria for the safety valve. The Fifth Circuit said that the agents testimony wasn’t even based on fact but only “mere speculation,” and returned the case to the district court to determine for itself whether the safety valve applied.

Leave a Comment

Recommended for you

Federal Halfway House – Everything You Need To Know

Over the past several weeks, I have received numerous e-mails and calls from different individuals concerning federal halfway house placements that have been reduced significantly—or denied entirely—by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”). What is going on? A variety of things, it seems. I.  Federal Halfway House – A Brief Overview The BOP has long…

Read More

The First Step Act Bill Summary Explained : A Comprehensive Analysis

The First Step Act 2018 Bill Summary: On December 21, 2018, the President signed into law The First Step Act 2018, a bipartisan effort to reform the federal criminal justice system. The Law Office of Brandon Sample has assembled this detailed analysis of the First Step Act 2018 to help the public understand the ins…

Read More

Sentencing Reform And Federal Prison News – January 2018

We are a week into 2018 and there is much buzz about what lies ahead in the year from the courts, Congress, and the U.S. Sentencing Commission for federal prison and sentencing reform. Here’s a summary of some of the highlights. (a) Congress – Sentencing Reform Different bills remain under consideration, but none have yet…

Read More