(a) IN GENERAL.—Except where a defendant is 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, a downward departure may be warranted in an exceptional case if (1) the defendant’s criminal conduct meets the requirements of subsection (b); and (2) the departure is not prohibited under subsection (c).
(b) REQUIREMENTS.—The court may depart downward under this policy statement only if the defendant committed a single criminal occurrence or single criminal transaction that (1) was committed without significant planning; (2) was of limited duration; and (3) represents a marked deviation by the defendant from an otherwise law-abiding life.
(c) PROHIBITIONS BASED ON THE PRESENCE OF CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.—The court may not depart downward pursuant to this policy statement if any of the following circumstances are present:
(1) The offense involved serious bodily injury or death.
(2) The defendant discharged a firearm or otherwise used a firearm or a dangerous weapon.
(3) The instant offense of conviction is a serious drug trafficking offense.
(4) The defendant has either of the following: (A) more than one criminal history point, as determined under Chapter Four (Criminal History and Criminal Livelihood) before application of subsection (b) of §4A1.3 (Departures Based on Inadequacy of Criminal History Category); or (B) a prior federal or state felony conviction, or any other significant prior criminal behavior, regardless of whether the conviction or significant prior criminal behavior is countable under Chapter Four.
1. Definitions.—For purposes of this policy statement:
"Dangerous weapon," "firearm," "otherwise used," and "serious bodily injury" have the meaning given those terms in the Commentary to §1B1.1 (Application Instructions).
"Serious drug trafficking offense" means any controlled substance offense under title 21, United States Code, other than simple possession under 21 U.S.C. § 844, that provides for a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years or greater, regardless of whether the defendant meets the criteria of §5C1.2 (Limitation on Applicability of Statutory Mandatory Minimum Sentences in Certain Cases).
2. Repetitious or Significant, Planned Behavior.—Repetitious or significant, planned behavior does not meet the requirements of subsection (b). For example, a fraud scheme generally would not meet such requirements because such a scheme usually involves repetitive acts, rather than a single occurrence or single criminal transaction, and significant planning.
3. Other Circumstances to Consider.—In determining whether the court should depart under this policy statement, the court may consider the defendant’s (A) mental and emotional conditions; (B) employment record; (C) record of prior good works; (D) motivation for committing the offense; and (E) efforts to mitigate the effects of the offense.
Background: Section 401(b)(3) of Public Law 108–21 directly amended subsection (a) of this policy statement, effective April 30, 2003.