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A 5K1.1 motion, also known as a “substantial assistance motion” or “downward departure motion,” refers to a provision in the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) that allows the court to depart from the otherwise applicable sentencing range for a defendant who has provided substantial assistance to the government in the investigation or prosecution of another person.

 Specifically, Section 5K1.1 of the USSG states:

A 5K1.1 motion, also referred to as a ” assistance motion” or “downward departure motion ” is a provision found in the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG). This provision allows the court to deviate from the sentencing range, for a defendant who has offered help to the government in investigating or prosecuting another individual.
In particular Section 5K1.1 of the USSG explains that when the government submits a motion indicating that the defendant has provided aid in investigating or prosecuting someone who has committed a crime the court has the discretion to depart from the guidelines.(a) The court will determine the reduction based on reasons, such, as;

(1) How valuable and helpful the defendants assistance was, as assessed by both the court and the government;

(2) The honesty, thoroughness and reliability of any information or testimony provided by the defendant;

(3) The type and scope of assistance provided by the defendant;

(4) Any harm suffered or potential danger to the defendant or their family due to their assistance;

(5) How promptly the defendant offered their assistance.

Substantial Assistance Motions Under Section 5K1.1

Initiated by Federal Prosecutors
Substantial Assistance Motions under Section 5K1.1 are started by the government by a prosecutor. These motions are based on a defendants collaboration with law enforcement or prosecutors in offering information or testimony that aids in investigating or prosecuting others involved in activities. Whether to submit a 5K1.1 motion is generally up, to the government.

When these substantial assistance motions are filed the court can choose to depart from sentencing guidelines and give a forgiving sentence to the defendant.
The court determines the level of leniency based on factors such, as the importance and helpfulness of the defendants cooperation how extensively they assisted how promptly they provided help and any risks or harm they or their family may have encountered due to their collaboration.

Implications of US Sentencing Guidelines
Simply put a 5K1.1 motion is a rule in the US Sentencing Guidelines that permits a reduction from the sentencing range for a defendant who has assisted significantly in government investigations or prosecutions. This motion is initiated by the government. Is influenced by the defendants cooperation, with authorities potentially resulting in a sentence.

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