Mandatory Minimum of 15 Years Reduced to Probation Only

Client facing a minimum mandatory 15 years prison in State Court and 5 years minimum mandatory prison in Federal court receives probation only sentence.

Our client was charged with helping move a large shipment of cocaine from Puerto Rico that weighed 3 kilograms. She was originally charged in State court with a fifteen year minimum mandatory prison drug trafficking charge. I was able to successfully argue for her release from the county jail at a bond reduction motion. However, she was indicted by the Federal Government for the same thing but was named in a large conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine. In that case, she was facing a minimum 5 years and up to 40 years in Federal prison.

Our client is the mother of three children and had never been in trouble with the law before. The cocaine shipment was received on behalf of a family member who she was trying to help. It was argued to the court that she was a minimal participant in the conspiracy which allowed for an adjustment in her Federal Sentencing guidelines that shaved a large amount of time off the sentence she was facing. It was argued that she did not understand the nature and scope of the conspiracy and acted in an unsophisticated manner in receiving the drug shipment. It was argued that she did not receive any payment for helping move the drugs.

Our client is also what is called “safety-valve” eligible under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. If one is “safety-valve” eligible one can be sentenced pursuant to the sentencing guidelines if those guidelines fall below the required statutory minimum sentence which in this case was five (5) years in prison. In order to be eligible the accused must meet certain criteria outlined in the guidelines.

Based on all of these reductions, we were able to successfully argue for a sentence of probation when our client was looking at a substantial amount of prison time to begin with.

If you are charged with a drug trafficking crime it is important to consult with and hire an experienced criminal drug lawyer. In cases in which a person is charged with a Federal drug crime, it is imperative that you hire a Federal defense attorney who understands the complexities of the Federal Sentencing guidelines so that you may seek to obtain a result that keeps you out of prison.

Written by

Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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