To be eligible for safety valve relief, a defendant must meet the following criteria:
- Non-violent offense: The defendant must have been convicted of a non-violent drug offense under federal law, including drug trafficking or drug possession with intent to distribute.
- Limited criminal history: The defendant must have little or no prior criminal record. Specifically, they must have no more than one criminal history point under the federal sentencing guidelines.
- Complete and truthful cooperation: The defendant must provide complete and truthful information about their offense to the government.
This cooperation must be provided before sentencing and must include all information the defendant has about the offense, including the involvement of any co-conspirators or others who were part of the drug trafficking operation.
- No use of violence or credible threat of violence: The defendant must not have used or threatened to use violence or a firearm in connection with the offense.
- No significant role in the offense: The defendant must not have been a leader, organizer, manager, or supervisor of others in the drug trafficking operation. If the defendant had a minor or minimal role in the offense, they may be eligible for safety valve relief.
If a defendant meets all of the criteria for safety valve relief, they may be eligible for a sentence below the mandatory minimum under federal law.
The court may impose a sentence based on the advisory sentencing guidelines, which are generally less severe than the mandatory minimum sentences.
It is important to note that the decision to grant safety valve relief is at the discretion of the judge.
Even if a defendant meets all of the eligibility criteria, the judge may choose to impose a sentence at or above the mandatory minimum based on other factors, such as the nature and circumstances of the offense, the defendant’s history and characteristics, and the need to protect the public.