In sentencing a defendant convicted of an offense other than an offense described in the following paragraph, family ties and responsibilities are not ordinarily relevant in determining whether a departure may be warranted.
In sentencing a defendant convicted of an offense involving a minor victim under section 1201, an offense under section 1591, or an offense under chapter 71, 109A, 110, or 117, of title 18, United States Code, family ties and responsibilities and community ties are not relevant in determining whether a sentence should be below the applicable guideline range.
Family responsibilities that are complied with may be relevant to the determination of the amount of restitution or fine.
1. Circumstances to Consider.—
(A) In General.—In determining whether a departure is warranted under this policy statement, the court shall consider the following non-exhaustive list of circumstances:
(i) The seriousness of the offense.
(ii) The involvement in the offense, if any, of members of the defendant’s family.
(iii) The danger, if any, to members of the defendant’s family as a result of the offense.
(B) Departures Based on Loss of Caretaking or Financial Support.—A departure under this policy statement based on the loss of caretaking or financial support of the defendant’s family requires, in addition to the court’s consideration of the non-exhaustive list of circumstances in subdivision (A), the presence of the following circumstances:
(i) The defendant’s service of a sentence within the applicable guideline range will cause a substantial, direct, and specific loss of essential caretaking, or essential financial support, to the defendant’s family.
(ii) The loss of caretaking or financial support substantially exceeds the harm ordinarily incident to incarceration for a similarly situated defendant. For example, the fact that the defendant’s family might incur some degree of financial hardship or suffer to some extent from the absence of a parent through incarceration is not in itself sufficient as a basis for departure because such hardship or suffering is of a sort ordinarily incident to incarceration.
(iii) The loss of caretaking or financial support is one for which no effective remedial or ameliorative programs reasonably are available, making the defendant’s caretaking or financial support irreplaceable to the defendant’s family.
(iv) The departure effectively will address the loss of caretaking or financial support.
Background: Section 401(b)(4) of Public Law 108–21 directly amended this policy statement to add the second paragraph, effective April 30, 2003.