What is Federal Rule 35?

by Ambrosio Rodriguez | Feb 27, 2023 | Federal Crimes

The United States has one of the greatest numbers of incarcerated people in the world, with over 2.3 million inmates as of 2021. This has caused a number of problems, such as overcrowding, high costs, and worries about fairness and justice in the criminal justice system.

To tackle some of these issues, a range of legislation and policies have been developed, including Rule 35(b), which allows for the reduction of a sentence under certain conditions.

What Is a Rule 35(b) Motion?

A Rule 35(b) motion is a type of post-conviction relief available only in federal court. This type of motion allows for a defendant’s sentence to be reduced after being convicted and sentenced for a federal crime.

To be eligible for a Rule 35(b) motion, an individual must provide substantial assistance to the prosecutor in one of three ways: providing evidence about another crime, aiding undercover investigations, or acting as a witness in other criminal proceedings.

In return for their services, the government can file a motion requesting that the defendant’s sentence be reduced due to their contribution towards justice being served.

When Is Cooperation Considered Substantial?

The definition of “substantial” when it comes to Rule 35(b) motions can vary from one prosecutor’s office to another. Generally speaking, however, providing truthful information about another person or organization that leads to their successful conviction would be considered “substantial” cooperation by any prosecutor’s office.

Similarly, testifying against someone else in court would also be considered “substantial” cooperation by prosecutors because of its importance in proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

When Can a Rule 35(b) Motion Be Filed?

A Rule 35(b) motion is generally filed during the sentencing phase and usually has to be submitted within one year of the sentence being passed. However, there are exceptions. If you don’t become aware of helpful information until more than a year after you have been sentenced, it might be possible to have this motion filed outside of the one-year period.

A defendant often cooperates before they are sentenced and receives a reduced sentence as a result of a 35(b) motion. If, after the defendant is sentenced, they continue cooperating with law enforcement, there cannot be a further reduction for the continued assistance since the motion was already filed and granted.

Your Sentence Can Be Reduced Below the Mandatory Minimum

Mandatory minimum sentences are laws that dictate that a judge must deliver a sentence of a certain duration for specific offenses. Even if the judge feels like the appropriate sentence should be shorter, they have no alternative but to assign the required mandatory minimum sentence. These regulations were introduced as part of the War on Drugs during the 1980s and ’90s, but now apply to many types of crimes.

Under Rule 35(b), a judge can reduce a sentence below the mandatory minimum if the defendant meets certain criteria, which is a huge benefit.

How a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help With a Rule 35(b) Motion

Prosecutors typically fulfill their commitment to consider a defendant for a lesser sentence in exchange for cooperation; however, this may not always be the case. Reasons for this could range from deeming that the assistance offered was not sufficient for a 35(b) motion, or perhaps the prosecutor simply forgot or got busy before they got around to filing it.

If the prosecutor has not followed through with their commitment after a plea agreement, having a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference. An attorney can speak with the prosecutor and remind them of their agreement to file the motion. Hopefully this is enough to get them to follow through with their promise.

If it’s not, a lawyer who is well-versed in Rule 35 proceedings will be able to collect evidence and present it to the prosecutor within the legal time frame to again show them why the motion should be filed.

Ensuring that justice is served requires perseverance and time, and having a qualified lawyer on your team can significantly enhance your chances of success.

Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Law Firm of The Rodriguez Law Group Today For Help

For more information please contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense law firm of The Rodriguez Law Group for a free consultation, give us a call at (213) 995-6767 or visit our convenient location:

The Rodriguez Law Group – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
626 Wilshire Blvd Suite 460, Los Angeles, CA 90017, United States