2005 Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Chapter 2 - PART A - OFFENSES AGAINST THE
§2A1.1. First Degree Murder
(a) Base Offense Level: 43
Statutory Provisions: 18
U.S.C. §§ 1111, 2113(e), 2118(c)(2), 2332b(a)(1), 2340A; 21 U.S.C. § 848(e).
For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix
A (Statutory Index).
1. Applicability of Guideline.—This
guideline applies in cases of premeditated killing. This guideline also applies
when death results from the commission of certain felonies. For example, this
guideline may be applied as a result of a cross reference (e.g.,
a kidnapping in which death occurs), or in cases in which the offense level
of a guideline is calculated using the underlying crime (e.g.,
murder in aid of racketeering).
2. Imposition of Life Sentence.—
(A) Offenses Involving Premeditated
Killing.—In the case of premeditated killing, life imprisonment
is the appropriate sentence if a sentence of death is not imposed. A downward
departure would not be appropriate in such a case. A downward departure
from a mandatory statutory term of life imprisonment is permissible only
in cases in which the government files a motion for a downward departure
for the defendant’s substantial assistance, as provided in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(e).
(B) Felony Murder.—If
the defendant did not cause the death intentionally or knowingly, a downward
departure may be warranted. For example, a downward departure may be warranted
if in robbing a bank, the defendant merely passed a note to the teller, as
a result of which the teller had a heart attack and died. The extent of the
departure should be based upon the defendant’s 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, departure below
the minimum guideline sentence provided for second degree murder in
§2A1.2 (Second Degree Murder) is not 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.
3. Applicability of Guideline When
Death Sentence Not Imposed.—If the defendant is sentenced pursuant
to 18 U.S.C. § 3591 et seq.
or 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 under those specific provisions.
Historical Note: Effective
November 1, 1987. Amended effective November 1, 1989 (see Appendix
C, amendment 82); November 1, 1990 (see Appendix
C, amendment 310); November 1, 1993 (see Appendix
C, amendment 476); November 1, 2002 (see Appendix
C, amendment 637); November 1, 2004 (see Appendix
C, amendment 663).