§2A1.1. First Degree Murder
(a) Base Offense Level: 43
Statutory Provisions: 18 U.S.C. §§ 1111, 2113(e), 2118(c)(2); 21 U.S.C. § 848(e). For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).
1. The Commission has concluded that in the absence of capital punishment life imprisonment is the appropriate punishment for premeditated killing. However, this guideline also applies when death results from the commission of certain felonies. Life imprisonment is not necessarily appropriate in all such situations. For example, if in robbing a bank, the defendant merely passed a note to the teller, as a result of which she had a heart attack and died, a sentence of life imprisonment clearly would not be appropriate.
If the defendant did not cause the death intentionally or knowingly, a downward departure may be warranted. The extent of the departure should be based upon the defendants state of mind (e.g., recklessness or negligence), the degree of risk inherent in the conduct, and the nature of the underlying offense conduct. However, the Commission does not envision that departure below that specified in §2A1.2 (Second Degree Murder) is likely to be appropriate. Also, because death obviously is an aggravating factor, it necessarily would be inappropriate to impose a sentence at a level below that which the guideline for the underlying offense requires in the absence of death.
2.If the defendant is convicted under 21 U.S.C. § 848(e), a sentence of death may be imposed under the specific provisions contained in that statute. This guideline applies when a sentence of death is not imposed.