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Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides for sentence reductions based on a defendant’s substantial assistance to the government in the investigation or prosecution of other individuals after the defendant has been sentenced. 

Rule 35 offers two distinct provisions for sentence reductions:

  1. Rule 35(a) – Correction of Sentence:

    Rule 35(a) allows the court to correct a sentence that resulted from “arithmetical, technical, or other clear error” within 14 days after sentencing. This provision is intended to address situations where the sentence imposed contains an obvious mistake, and it is unrelated to the defendant’s cooperation with the government.

  2. Rule 35(b) – Reduction Based on Defendant’s Substantial Assistance:

    Rule 35(b) permits the court to reduce a defendant’s sentence if the government files a motion stating that the defendant provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.

Rule 35(b) is particularly relevant when discussing sentence reductions based on substantial assistance. It states:

(b) Reducing a Sentence for Substantial Assistance.

(1) In General. Upon the government’s motion made within one year of sentencing, the court may reduce a sentence if:

(A) the defendant, after sentencing, provided substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person; and

(B) reducing the sentence accords with the Sentencing Commission’s guidelines and policy statements.

(2) Later Motion. Upon the government’s motion made more than one year after sentencing, the court may reduce a sentence if the defendant’s substantial assistance involved:

(A) information not known to the defendant until one year or more after sentencing;

(B) information provided by the defendant to the government within one year of sentencing, but which did not become useful to the government until more than one year after sentencing; or

(C) information the usefulness of which could not reasonably have been anticipated by the defendant until more than one year after sentencing and which was promptly provided to the government after its usefulness was reasonably apparent to the defendant.

A Rule 35(b) motion must be initiated by the government, typically by the prosecutor, and the decision to file such a motion is generally at the government’s discretion.

If the government files a Rule 35(b) motion, the court has the authority to reduce the defendant’s sentence, taking into account the extent of the defendant’s cooperation and the Sentencing Commission’s guidelines and policy statements.

In summary, Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provides for sentence reductions based on a defendant’s substantial assistance to the government after they have been sentenced.

Rule 35(b) specifically addresses reductions due to the defendant’s cooperation in investigating or prosecuting another person, and such reductions must be initiated by the government’s motion.

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