Determine the offense level applicable to each of the Groups as follows:
(a) In the case of counts grouped together pursuant to §3D1.2(a)-(c), the offense level applicable to a Group is the offense level, determined in accordance with Chapter Two and Parts A, B, and C of Chapter Three, for the most serious of the counts comprising the Group, i.e., the highest offense level of the counts in the Group.
(b) In the case of counts grouped together pursuant to §3D1.2(d), the offense level applicable to a Group is the offense level corresponding to the aggregated quantity, determined in accordance with Chapter Two and Parts A, B and C of Chapter Three. When the counts involve offenses of the same general type to which different guidelines apply, apply the offense guideline that produces the highest offense level.
1. The "offense level" for a count refers to the offense level from Chapter Two after all adjustments from Parts A, B, and C of Chapter Three.
2. When counts are grouped pursuant to §3D1.2(a)-(c), the highest offense level of the counts in the group is used. Ordinarily, it is necessary to determine the offense level for each of the counts in a Group in order to ensure that the highest is correctly identified. Sometimes, it will be clear that one count in the Group cannot have a higher offense level than another, as with a count for an attempt or conspiracy to commit the completed offense. The formal determination of the offense level for such a count may be unnecessary.
3. When counts are grouped pursuant to §3D1.2(d), the offense guideline applicable to the aggregate behavior is used. If the counts in the Group are covered by different guidelines, use the guideline that produces the highest offense level. Determine whether the specific offense characteristics or adjustments from Chapter Three, Parts A, B, and C apply based upon the combined offense behavior taken as a whole. Note that guidelines for similar property offenses have been coordinated to produce identical offense levels, at least when substantial property losses are involved. However, when small sums are involved the differing specific offense characteristics that require increasing the offense level to a certain minimum may affect the outcome.
4. Sometimes the rule specified in this section may not result in incremental punishment for additional criminal acts because of the grouping rules. For example, if the defendant commits forcible criminal sexual abuse (rape), aggravated assault, and robbery, all against the same victim on a single occasion, all of the counts are grouped together under §3D1.2. The aggravated assault will increase the guideline range for the rape. The robbery, however, will not. This is because the offense guideline for rape (§2A3.1) includes the most common aggravating factors, including injury, that data showed to be significant in actual practice. The additional factor of property loss ordinarily can be taken into account adequately within the guideline range for rape, which is fairly wide. However, an exceptionally large property loss in the course of the rape would provide grounds for an upward departure. See §5K2.5 (Property Damage or Loss).
Background: This section provides rules for determining the offense level associated with each Group of Closely Related Counts. Summary examples of the application of these rules are provided at the end of the Commentary to this Part.