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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. 

On April 11, 2022, the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta announced the creation of a new pretrial diversion court, the Accountability, Treatment, and Leadership Court “ATL Court“. It is formed with the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Probation Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Federal Defender Program, and  will be run by folks from each of these agencies who will be known as the ATL Court Team.  Please note: The ATL Court is in addition to, and not a replacement of, the Northern District of Georgia’s existing Pretrial Diversion Program.

“THE ATL COURT MISSION:  Our mission is to provide the opportunity to avoid some of the consequences of aberrant criminal conduct to certain individuals charged with non-violent crimes in the Northern District of Georgia who would most greatly benefit from intense supervision, education, or treatment.”

HOW ATL COURT WORKS

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What is a Grand Jury?
The purpose of the grand jury is to determine whether or not there is probable cause to believe that any federal felony has been committed. A typical federal grand jury consists of between 16-23 citizens drawn from the community. 
The jurors meet in a closed courtroom, with no judge, no accused, no press, and no lawyer but the prosecutor present. This means your lawyer will NOT be present in the closed court room.  The grand jurors decide whether or not to indict a person or persons by listening to witnesses and evaluating evidence obtained by grand jury subpoenas. At least 12 grand jurors must find that there is sufficient probable cause in order to return a True Bill,  which when signed by the prosecutor becomes the indictment: the formal criminal charge that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. If the grand jury does not find sufficient probable cause, which almost never occurs, then it returns a No Bill.
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