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Get the Agreement in Writing First

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Volume: 6 Issue: 1 Dated: (Spring 1991) Pages: 34-39
M G Shein
Date Published
6 pages
The current status of defendant cooperation with the government in reporting known criminal behavior is examined in relation to Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Case examples are presented to illustrate that cooperation without counsel at any stage of criminal proceedings can result in the defendant's failure to obtain benefits or protection for that cooperation. Even cooperation with counsel guidance can present problems. The original and revised guidelines conclude that only the defendant's criminal history, his dependence upon criminal activity for a livelihood, and his acceptance for his wrongdoing are relevant to a reduction of sentence together with judicial discretion of the sentencing court. Under the present Federal Sentencing Guidelines, a cooperating criminal defendant has no assurance of consideration of his cooperation from the government. Until applicable guidelines are established by the sentencing commission, the best recourse for the cooperating defendant is to have an agreement in writing that delineates the expectations of both the defendant and the government. The U.S. Sentencing Commission needs to assess how rewards for cooperation are initiated and determined so that some protection is offered to those defendants who cooperate.