Drug Trafficking and the Safety Valve Exception


The “Safety Valve” exception is a statutory exception to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. A safety valve allows a judge to sentence a person below the mandatory minimum term if certain conditions are met.  The “Safety Valve” provision is a provision of law codified in 18 United States Code §3553(f).  It specifically allows a judge to sentence below the minimum mandatory required by law.  However, you must be eligible.  There is also a two level reduction in the sentencing guidelines under United States Sentencing Guidelines §2D1.1(b)(17).

The requirements set out in 18 U.S.C. §3553(f) are:
  • You do not have more than 1 criminal history point. 
  • You did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon (or induce another participant)
  • The offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person
  • You were not an organizer, leader, manager or supervisor of others in the offense and not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise
  • You truthfully provided the government all information related to the offense.  
It is necessary for an  experienced federal criminal defense attorney to ascertain what constitutes a “criminal history point” for purposes of qualifying for the “Safety Valve” provision.  In addition, “truthfully providing” information to the government is another dicey area that needs an attorney present.
Conaway & Strickler, PC has handled many cases involving this provision.  Please feel free to contact us any time to discuss.







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