Downward Departure Law and Legal Definition

Downward departure is a term used in criminal law to refer to departing downward from the applicable sentencing guideline range for a statutory minimum sentence. A request for downward departure is typically made by motion and is often referred to as a downward motion. For example, a downward motion may be made by a prosecutor for a defendant who has provided "substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense." (U.S.S.G. § 5K1.1.)