In the federal criminal justice system, mistakes are sometimes made in the sentencing of convicted individuals. According to part A of Rule 35, the court can reduce or correct sentences when there are technical, mathematical or other clear errors. Changes must be made within 14 days of the sentencing. In this rule, sentencing is defined as the oral announcement of the sentence. Rule 35 applies to federal courts in all jurisdictions, including North Carolina.
Part B of Rule 35 allows for changes to sentences when the defendant offers substantial assistance. For example, a defendant could provide information that helps in the investigation of another criminal. Defendants can provide substantial assistance through testimony, information and other means. In general, the motion must take place within one year of sentencing, but exceptions can be made in a variety of circumstances.
The court can reduce a sentence more than a year after sentencing if new information becomes available to the defendant, the government finds new use for old information provided by the defendant or the defendant immediately provides information as soon as they become aware of its usefulness. In these cases, the court is allowed to reduce the defendant’s sentence below mandatory minimums.
Rule 35 is one of many rules that affect post-conviction procedures in federal courts. When a lawyer creates a criminal defense strategy for their client, it’s important to advocate for their best interests even if they are found guilty. This may mean discovering and correcting errors in sentencing or helping the client provide substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another suspect. The attorney should be aware of all amendments to Rule 35 and relevant applications in case law.