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Reduced sentence for Peters man accused of drug, weapons crimes

Extensive case preparation is often the key to a favorable outcome for a defendant facing federal drug charges. The objective of a strong criminal defense is to uncover any mistakes investigators or prosecutors may have made. It may be possible that revealing such mistakes will result in a reduction or dismissal of charges. If the evidence presented by federal prosecutors is likely to result in a conviction, however, then negotiating for a reduced sentence should become the defense's top priority.

Recently a man from Peters Township was able to secure a significantly reduced sentence after arguing that difficulties with his car transporting business led him to start dealing drugs again. He had prior drug-related convictions on his record, and federal mandatory sentencing guidelines recommended that he face a prison sentence of 22 to 27 years. Instead, the judge handed down a three-year sentence.

According to his attorneys, the man's business was failing, and he and his family had exhausted their financial resources and were unable to get a loan.

It was also noted that the defendant provided "substantial cooperation" to federal authorities, and that his cooperation called for a lenient sentence.

The man was accused of selling crack cocaine and illegally possessing 16 firearms. Because of a prior felony conviction, he was prohibited from owning or possessing a gun.

In addition to the three-year prison sentence, the man will be on probation for eight years. He was also ordered to turn over the weapons he was accused of possessing.

Just because a person is accused of a crime does not mean that a conviction is automatic. And this particular case should serve as a reminder that just because a federal guideline recommends a particular sentence does not mean that a judge will necessarily choose that sentence. Depending on the facts of a case, the defendant may see a more favorable outcome.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Peters drug dealer wins reduced sentence for cooperating," Rich Lord, Dec. 11, 2013

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