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Section 3B1.2 Mitigating Role

Based on the defendant’s role in the offense, decrease the offense level as follows:

(a) If the defendant was a minimal participant in any criminal activity, decrease by 4 levels.

(b) If the defendant was a minor participant in any criminal activity, decrease by 2 levels.

In cases falling in between, decrease by 3 levels.

Mitigating Role Analysis

The defendant bears the burden of proving that his sentence should be reduced to reflect his minor or minimal role in the offense. United States v. Rodriguez De Varon, 175 F.3d 930 (11th Cir. 1999).

Even if the defendant is among the least culpable in a conspiracy, he is not automatically entitled to a minor role reduction. It is entirely possible for conspiracies to exist in which there are no minor participants, or in which the least culpable participants were not indicted. United States v. Zaccardi, 924 F.2d 201 (11th Cir. 1991).

A courier of drugs is not automatically entitled to a reduction as either a minimal or minor participant in a drug conspiracy. United States v. Veloza, 83 F.3d 380 (11th Cir. 1996).

The conspiracy on which a defendant’s base offense level is founded is the relevant conspiracy for determining his role in the offense. Thus, if the defendant is arguably in a larger conspiracy, in which he plays a minimal role, but the District Court calculates the base offense level on the basis of a more modest conspiracy, the pertinent conspiracy for calculating the role in the offense is the more modest conspiracy. United States v. Fernandez, 92 F.3d 1121 (11th Cir. 1996).

However, in 2001, Application Note 3(A) was added to Section 3B1.2. It provides that a defendant “who is convicted of a drug trafficking offense, whose role in that offense was limited to transporting or storing drugs and who is accountable under Section 1B1.3 only for the quantity of drugs the defendant personally transported or stored is not precluded from consideration for an adjustment under this guideline.”

If there is only one participant in an offense, there can be no downward reduction for role. United States v. Costales, 5 F.3d 480 (11th Cir. 1993).

A defendant may not receive a role reduction if he is sentenced as a career offender. United States v. Jeter, 329 F.3d 1229 (11th Cir. 2003).