2009 FEDERAL SENTENCING GUIDELINES MANUAL


CHAPTER 5 - PART H - SPECIFIC OFFENDER CHARACTERISTICS

Introductory Commentary

The following policy statements address the relevance of certain offender characteristics to the determination of whether a sentence should be outside the applicable guideline range and, in certain cases, to the determination of a sentence within the applicable guideline range. Under 28 U.S.C. § 994(d), the Commission is directed to consider whether certain specific offender characteristics "have any relevance to the nature, extent, place of service, or other incidents of an appropriate sentence" and to take them into account only to the extent they are determined to be relevant by the Commission.

The Commission has determined that certain circumstances are not ordinarily relevant to the determination of whether a sentence should be outside the applicable guideline range. Unless expressly stated, this does not mean that the Commission views such circumstances as necessarily inappropriate to the determination of the sentence within the applicable guideline range or to the determination of various other incidents of an appropriate sentence (e.g., the appropriate conditions of probation or supervised release). Furthermore, although these circumstances are not ordinarily relevant to the determination of whether a sentence should be outside the applicable guideline range, they may be relevant to this determination in exceptional cases. They also may be relevant if a combination of such circumstances makes the case an exceptional one, but only if each such circumstance is identified as an affirmative ground for departure and is present in the case to a substantial degree. See §5K2.0 (Grounds for Departure).

In addition, 28 U.S.C. § 994(e) requires the Commission to assure that its guidelines and policy statements reflect the general inappropriateness of considering the defendant’s education, vocational skills, employment record, and family ties and responsibilities in determining whether a term of imprisonment should be imposed or the length of a term of imprisonment.

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 357); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 386); November 1, 1994 (see Appendix C, amendment 508); October 27, 2003 (see Appendix C, amendment 651).

§5H1.1. Age (Policy Statement)

Age (including youth) is not ordinarily relevant in determining whether a departure is warranted. Age may be a reason to depart downward in a case in which the defendant is elderly and infirm and where a form of punishment such as home confinement might be equally efficient as and less costly than incarceration. Physical condition, which may be related to age, is addressed at §5H1.4 (Physical Condition, Including Drug or Alcohol Dependence or Abuse; Gambling Addiction).

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 386); November 1, 1993 (see Appendix C, amendment 475); October 27, 2003 (see Appendix C, amendment 651); November 1, 2004 (see Appendix C, amendment 674).