2001 Federal Sentencing Guideline Manual


§2J1.2 .Obstruction of Justice

(a) Base Offense Level: 12

(b) Specific Offense Characteristics

(1) If the offense involved causing or threatening to cause physical injury to a person, or property damage, in order to obstruct the administration of justice, increase by 8 levels.

(2)If the offense resulted in substantial interference with the administration of justice, increase by 3 levels.

(c)Cross Reference

(1)If the offense involved obstructing the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense, apply §2X3.1 (Accessory After the Fact) in respect to that criminal offense, if the resulting offense level is greater than that determined above.

Commentary

Statutory Provisions: 18 U.S.C. §§ 1503, 1505-1513, 1516. For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

Application Notes:

1. "Substantial interference with the administration of justice" includes a premature or improper termination of a felony investigation; an indictment, verdict, or any judicial determination based upon perjury, false testimony, or other false evidence; or the unnecessary expenditure of substantial governmental or court resources.

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 obstruction of justice count.

3. In the event that the defendant is convicted under this section as well as for the underlying offense (i.e., the offense that is the object of the obstruction), see the Commentary to Chapter Three, Part C (Obstruction), and to §3D1.2(c) (Groups of Closely Related Counts).

4. If a weapon was used, or bodily injury or significant property damage resulted, a departure may be warranted. See Chapter Five, Part K (Departures).

5. The inclusion of "property damage" under subsection (b)(1) is designed to address cases in which property damage is caused or threatened as a means of intimidation or retaliation (e.g., to intimidate a witness from, or retaliate against a witness for, testifying). Subsection (b)(1) is not intended to apply, for example, where the offense consisted of destroying a ledger containing an incriminating entry.

Background: This section addresses offenses involving the obstruction of justice generally prosecuted under the above-referenced statutory provisions. Numerous offenses of varying seriousness may constitute obstruction of justice: using threats or force to intimidate or influence a juror or federal officer; obstructing a civil or administrative proceeding; stealing or altering court records; unlawfully intercepting grand jury deliberations; obstructing a criminal investigation; obstructing a state or local investigation of illegal gambling; using intimidation or force to influence testimony, alter evidence, evade legal process, or obstruct the communication of a judge or law enforcement officer; or causing a witness bodily injury or property damage in retaliation for providing testimony, information or evidence in a federal proceeding. The conduct that gives rise to the violation may, therefore, range from a mere threat to an act of extreme violence.

The specific offense characteristics reflect the more serious forms of obstruction. Because the conduct covered by this guideline is frequently part of an effort to avoid punishment for an offense that the defendant has committed or to assist another person to escape punishment for an offense, a cross reference to §2X3.1 (Accessory After the Fact) is provided. Use of this cross reference will provide an enhanced offense level when the obstruction is in respect to a particularly serious offense, whether such offense was committed by the defendant or another person.

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendments 172-174); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 401).