2007 Federal Sentencing Guidelines


CHAPTER 2 - PART J - OFFENSES INVOLVING THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE

§2J1.6. Failure to Appear by Defendant

(a) Base Offense Level:

(1) 11, if the offense constituted a failure to report for service of sentence; or

(2) 6, otherwise.

(b) Specific Offense Characteristics

(1) If the base offense level is determined under subsection (a)(1), and the defendant --

(A) voluntarily surrendered within 96 hours of the time he was originally scheduled to report, decrease by 5 levels; or

(B) was ordered to report to a community corrections center, community treatment center, "halfway house," or similar facility, and subdivision (A) above does not apply, decrease by 2 levels.

Provided, however, that this reduction shall not apply if the defendant, while away from the facility, committed any federal, state, or local offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of one year or more.

(2) If the base offense level is determined under subsection (a)(2), and the underlying offense is --

(A) punishable by death or imprisonment for a term of fifteen years or more, increase by 9 levels; or

(B) punishable by a term of imprisonment of five years or more, but less than fifteen years, increase by 6 levels; or

(C) a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than five years, increase by 3 levels.

Commentary

Statutory Provision: 18 U.S.C. § 3146(b)(1).

Application Notes:

1. "Underlying offense" means the offense in respect to which the defendant failed to appear.

2. For offenses covered under this section, Chapter Three, Part C (Obstruction) does not apply, unless the defendant obstructed the investigation or trial of the failure to appear count.

3. In the case of a failure to appear for service of sentence, any term of imprisonment imposed on the failure to appear count is to be imposed consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed for the underlying offense. See §5G1.3(a). The guideline range for the failure to appear count is to be determined independently and the grouping rules of §§3D1.1-3D1.5 do not apply.

However, in the case of a conviction on both the underlying offense and the failure to appear, other than a case of failure to appear for service of sentence, the failure to appear is treated under §3C1.1 (Obstructing or Impeding the Administration of Justice) as an obstruction of the underlying offense, and the failure to appear count and the count or counts for the underlying offense are grouped together under §3D1.2(c). (Note that 18 U.S.C. § 3146(b)(2) does not require a sentence of imprisonment on a failure to appear count, although if a sentence of imprisonment on the failure to appear count is imposed, the statute requires that the sentence be imposed to run consecutively to any other sentence of imprisonment. Therefore, unlike a count in which the statute mandates both a minimum and a consecutive sentence of imprisonment, the grouping rules of §§3D1.1-3D1.5 apply. See §3D1.1(b)(1), comment. (n.1), and §3D1.2, comment. (n.1).) The combined sentence will then be constructed to provide a "total punishment" that satisfies the requirements both of §5G1.2 (Sentencing on Multiple Counts of Conviction) and 18 U.S.C. § 3146(b)(2). For example, if the combined applicable guideline range for both counts is 30-37 months and the court determines that a "total punishment" of 36 months is appropriate, a sentence of 30 months for the underlying offense plus a consecutive six months’ sentence for the failure to appear count would satisfy these requirements. (Note that the combination of this instruction and increasing the offense level for the obstructive, failure to appear conduct has the effect of ensuring an incremental, consecutive punishment for the failure to appear count, as required by 18 U.S.C. § 3146(b)(2).)

4. If a defendant is convicted of both the underlying offense and the failure to appear count, and the defendant committed additional acts of obstructive behavior (e.g., perjury) during the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of the instant offense, an upward departure may be warranted. The upward departure will ensure an enhanced sentence for obstructive conduct for which no adjustment under §3C1.1 (Obstruction of Justice) is made because of the operation of the rules set out in Application Note 3.

5. In some cases, the defendant may be sentenced on the underlying offense (the offense in respect to which the defendant failed to appear) before being sentenced on the failure to appear offense. In such cases, criminal history points for the sentence imposed on the underlying offense are to be counted in determining the guideline range on the failure to appear offense only where the offense level is determined under subsection (a)(1) (i.e., where the offense constituted a failure to report for service of sentence).

Background: This section applies to a failure to appear by a defendant who was released pending trial, sentencing, appeal, or surrender for service of sentence. Where the base offense level is determined under subsection (a)(2), the offense level increases in relation to the statutory maximum of the underlying offense.

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 329); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 403); November 1, 1998 (see Appendix C, amendment 579); November 1, 2001 (see Appendix C, amendment 636) ; November 1, 2005 (see Appendix C, amendment 680) .