2001 Federal Sentencing Guideline Manual


§4B1.1. Career Offender

A defendant is a career offender if (1) the defendant was at least eighteen years old at the time the defendant committed the instant offense of conviction, (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense, and (3) the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense. If the offense level for a career criminal from the table below is greater than the offense level otherwise applicable, the offense level from the table below shall apply. A career offender’s criminal history category in every case shall be Category VI.

Offense Statutory Maximum Offense Level*
(A) Life 37
(B) 25 years or more 34
(C) 20 years or more, but less than 25 years 32
(D) 15 years or more, but less than 20 years 29
(E) 10 years or more, but less than 15 years 24
(F) 5 years or more, but less than 10 years 17
(G) More than 1 year, but less than 5 years 12.

*If an adjustment from §3E1.1 (Acceptance of Responsibility) applies, decrease the offense level by the number of levels corresponding to that adjustment.

Commentary

Application Notes:

1."Crime of violence," "controlled substance offense," and "two prior felony convictions" are defined in §4B1.2.

2."Offense Statutory Maximum," for the purposes of this guideline, refers to the maximum term of imprisonment authorized for the offense of conviction that is a crime of violence or controlled substance offense, including any increase in that maximum term under a sentencing enhancement provision that applies because of the defendant’s prior criminal record (such sentencing enhancement provisions are contained, for example, in 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A), (B), (C), and (D)). For example, in a case in which the statutory maximum term of imprisonment under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C) is increased from twenty years to thirty years because the defendant has one or more qualifying prior drug convictions, the "Offense Statutory Maximum" for that defendant for the purposes of this guideline is thirty years and not twenty years. If more than one count of conviction is of a crime of violence or controlled substance offense, use the maximum authorized term of imprisonment for the count that has the greatest offense statutory maximum.

Background: Section 994(h) of Title 28, United States Code, mandates that the Commission assure that certain "career" offenders receive a sentence of imprisonment "at or near the maximum term authorized." Section 4B1.1 implements this directive, with the definition of a career offender tracking in large part the criteria set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 994(h). However, in accord with its general guideline promulgation authority under 28 U.S.C. § 994(a)-(f), and its amendment authority under 28 U.S.C. § 994(o) and (p), the Commission has modified this definition in several respects to focus more precisely on the class of recidivist offenders for whom a lengthy term of imprisonment is appropriate and to avoid "unwarranted sentencing disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar criminal conduct . . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 991(b)(1)(B). The Commission’s refinement of this definition over time is consistent with Congress’s choice of a directive to the Commission rather than a mandatory minimum sentencing statute ("The [Senate Judiciary] Committee believes that such a directive to the Commission will be more effective; the guidelines development process can assure consistent and rational implementation for the Committee’s view that substantial prison terms should be imposed on repeat violent offenders and repeat drug traffickers." S. Rep. No. 225, 98th Cong., 1st Sess. 175 (1983)).

Historical Note : Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective January 15, 1988 ( see Appendix C, amendments 47 and 48); November 1, 1989 ( see Appendix C, amendments 266 and 267); November 1, 1992 ( see Appendix C, amendment 459); November 1, 1994 ( see Appendix C, amendment 506); November 1, 1995 ( see Appendix C, amendment 528); November 1, 1997 ( see Appendix C, amendments 546 and 567).