2009 FEDERAL SENTENCING GUIDELINES MANUAL


CHAPTER SEVEN - VIOLATIONS OF PROBATION AND SUPERVISED RELEASE

PART A - INTRODUCTION TO CHAPTER SEVEN

1. Authority

Under 28 U.S.C. § 994(a)(3), the Sentencing Commission is required to issue guidelines or policy statements applicable to the revocation of probation and supervised release. At this time, the Commission has chosen to promulgate policy statements only. These policy statements will provide guidance while allowing for the identification of any substantive or procedural issues that require further review. The Commission views these policy statements as evolutionary and will review relevant data and materials concerning revocation determinations under these policy statements. Revocation guidelines will be issued after federal judges, probation officers, practitioners, and others have the opportunity to evaluate and comment on these policy statements.

2. Background

(a) Probation.

Prior to the implementation of the federal sentencing guidelines, a court could stay the imposition or execution of sentence and place a defendant on probation. When a court found that a defendant violated a condition of probation, the court could continue probation, with or without extending the term or modifying the conditions, or revoke probation and either impose the term of imprisonment previously stayed, or, where no term of imprisonment had originally been imposed, impose any term of imprisonment that was available at the initial sentencing.

The statutory authority to "suspend" the imposition or execution of sentence in order to impose a term of probation was abolished upon implementation of the sentencing guidelines. Instead, the Sentencing Reform Act recognized probation as a sentence in itself. 18 U.S.C. § 3561. Under current law, if the court finds that a defendant violated a condition of probation, the court may continue probation, with or without extending the term or modifying the conditions, or revoke probation and impose any other sentence that initially could have been imposed. 18 U.S.C. § 3565. For certain violations, revocation is required by statute.

(b) Supervised Release.

Supervised release, a new form of post-imprisonment supervision created by the Sentencing Reform Act, accompanied implementation of the guidelines. A term of supervised release may be imposed by the court as a part of the sentence of imprisonment at the time of initial sentencing. 18 U.S.C. § 3583(a). Unlike parole, a term of supervised release does not replace a portion of the sentence of imprisonment, but rather is an order of supervision in addition to any term of imprisonment imposed by the court. Accordingly, supervised release is more analogous to the additional "special parole term" previously authorized for certain drug offenses.

The conditions of supervised release authorized by statute are the same as those for a sentence of probation, except for intermittent confinement. (Intermittent confinement is available for a sentence of probation, but is available as a condition of supervised release only for a violation of a condition of supervised release.) When the court finds that the defendant violated a condition of supervised release, it may continue the defendant on supervised release, with or without extending the term or modifying the conditions, or revoke supervised release and impose a term of imprisonment. The periods of imprisonment authorized by statute for a violation of the conditions of supervised release generally are more limited, however, than those available for a violation of the conditions of probation. 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3).

3. Resolution of Major Issues

(a) Guidelines versus Policy Statements.

At the outset, the Commission faced a choice between promulgating guidelines or issuing advisory policy statements for the revocation of probation and supervised release. After considered debate and input from judges, probation officers, and prosecuting and defense attorneys, the Commission decided, for a variety of reasons, initially to issue policy statements. Not only was the policy statement option expressly authorized by statute, but this approach provided greater flexibility to both the Commission and the courts. Unlike guidelines, policy statements are not subject to the May 1 statutory deadline for submission to Congress, and the Commission believed that it would benefit from the additional time to consider complex issues relating to revocation guidelines provided by the policy statement option.

Moreover, the Commission anticipates that, because of its greater flexibility, the policy statement option will provide better opportunities for evaluation by the courts and the Commission. This flexibility is important, given that supervised release as a method of post-incarceration supervision and transformation of probation from a suspension of sentence to a sentence in itself represent recent changes in federal sentencing practices. After an adequate period of evaluation, the Commission intends to promulgate revocation guidelines.

(b) Choice Between Theories.

The Commission debated two different approaches to sanctioning violations of probation and supervised release.

The first option considered a violation resulting from a defendant’s failure to follow the courtimposed conditions of probation or supervised release as a “breach of trust.” While the nature of the conduct leading to the revocation would be considered in measuring the extent of the breach of trust, imposition of an appropriate punishment for any new criminal conduct would not be the primary goal of a revocation sentence. Instead, the sentence imposed upon revocation would be intended to sanction the violator for failing to abide by the conditions of the court-ordered supervision, leaving the punishment for any new criminal conduct to the court responsible for imposing the sentence for that offense.

The second option considered by the Commission sought to sanction violators for the particular conduct triggering the revocation as if that conduct were being sentenced as new federal criminal conduct. Under this approach, offense guidelines in Chapters Two and Three of the Guidelines Manual would be applied to any criminal conduct that formed the basis of the violation, after which the criminal history in Chapter Four of the Guidelines Manual would be recalculated to determine the appropriate revocation sentence. This option would also address a violation not constituting a criminal offense.

After lengthy consideration, the Commission adopted an approach that is consistent with the theory of the first option; i.e., at revocation the court should sanction primarily the defendant’s breach of trust, while taking into account, to a limited degree, the seriousness of the underlying violation and the criminal history of the violator.

The Commission adopted this approach for a variety of reasons. First, although the Commission found desirable several aspects of the second option that provided for a detailed revocation guideline system similar to that applied at the initial sentencing, extensive testing proved it to be impractical. In particular, with regard to new criminal conduct that constituted a violation of state or local law, working groups expert in the functioning of federal criminal law noted that it would be difficult in many instances for the court or the parties to obtain the information necessary to apply properly the guidelines to this new conduct. The potential unavailability of information and witnesses necessary for a determination of specific offense characteristics or other guideline adjustments could create questions about the accuracy of factual findings concerning the existence of those factors.

In addition, the Commission rejected the second option because that option was inconsistent with its views that the court with jurisdiction over the criminal conduct leading to revocation is the more appropriate body to impose punishment for that new criminal conduct, and that, as a breach of trust inherent in the conditions of supervision, the sanction for the violation of trust should be in addition, or consecutive, to any sentence imposed for the new conduct. In contrast, the second option would have the revocation court substantially duplicate the sanctioning role of the court with jurisdiction over a defendant’s new criminal conduct and would provide for the punishment imposed upon revocation to run concurrently with, and thus generally be subsumed in, any sentence imposed for that new criminal conduct.

Further, the sanctions available to the courts upon revocation are, in many cases, more significantly restrained by statute. Specifically, the term of imprisonment that may be imposed upon revocation of supervised release is limited by statute to not more than five years for persons convicted of Class A felonies, except for certain Title 21 drug offenses; not more than three years for Class B felonies; not more than two years for Class C or D felonies; and not more than one year for Class E felonies. 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3).

Given the relatively narrow ranges of incarceration available in many cases, combined with the potential difficulty in obtaining information necessary to determine specific offense characteristics, the Commission felt that it was undesirable at this time to develop guidelines that attempt to distinguish, in detail, the wide variety of behavior that can lead to revocation. Indeed, with the relatively low ceilings set by statute, revocation policy statements that attempted to delineate with great particularity the gradations of conduct leading to revocation would frequently result in a sentence at the statutory maximum penalty.

Accordingly, the Commission determined that revocation policy statements that provided for three broad grades of violations would permit proportionally longer terms for more serious violations and thereby would address adequately concerns about proportionality, without creating the problems inherent in the second option.

4. The Basic Approach

The revocation policy statements categorize violations of probation and supervised release in three broad classifications ranging from serious new felonious criminal conduct to less serious criminal conduct and technical violations. The grade of the violation, together with the violator’s criminal history category calculated at the time of the initial sentencing, fix the applicable sentencing range.

The Commission has elected to develop a single set of policy statements for revocation of both probation and supervised release. In reviewing the relevant literature, the Commission determined that the purpose of supervision for probation and supervised release should focus on the integration of the violator into the community, while providing the supervision designed to limit further criminal conduct. Although there was considerable debate as to whether the sanction imposed upon revocation of probation should be different from that imposed upon revocation of supervised release, the Commission has initially concluded that a single set of policy statements is appropriate.

5. A Concluding Note

The Commission views these policy statements for revocation of probation and supervised release as the first step in an evolutionary process. The Commission expects to issue revocation guidelines after judges, probation officers, and practitioners have had an opportunity to apply and comment on the policy statements.

In developing these policy statements, the Commission assembled two outside working groups of experienced probation officers representing every circuit in the nation, officials from the Probation Division of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the General Counsel’s office at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, and the U.S. Parole Commission. In addition, a number of federal judges, members of the Criminal Law and Probation Administration Committee of the Judicial Conference, and representatives from the Department of Justice and federal and community defenders provided considerable input into this effort.

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 362). Amended effective November 1, 2002 (see Appendix C, amendment 646); November 1, 2009 (see Appendix C, amendment 733).

§§7A1.1 - 7A1.4 [Deleted]

Historical Note: Sections 7A1.1 (Reporting of Violations of Probation and Supervised Release), 7A1.2 (Revocation of Probation), 7A1.3 (Revocation of Supervised Release), and 7A1.4 (No Credit for Time Under Supervision), effective November 1, 1987, were deleted as part of an overall revision of this chapter effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 362).

PART B - PROBATION AND SUPERVISED RELEASE VIOLATIONS

Introductory Commentary

The policy statements in this chapter seek to prescribe penalties only for the violation of the judicial order imposing supervision. Where a defendant is convicted of a criminal charge that also is a basis of the violation, these policy statements do not purport to provide the appropriate sanction for the criminal charge itself. The Commission has concluded that the determination of the appropriate sentence on any new criminal conviction should be a separate determination for the court having jurisdiction over such conviction.

Because these policy statements focus on the violation of the court-ordered supervision, this chapter, to the extent permitted by law, treats violations of the conditions of probation and supervised release as functionally equivalent.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3584, the court, upon consideration of the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), including applicable guidelines and policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission, may order a term of imprisonment to be served consecutively or concurrently to an undischarged term of imprisonment. It is the policy of the Commission that the sanction imposed upon revocation is to be served consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed for any criminal conduct that is the basis of the revocation.

This chapter is applicable in the case of a defendant under supervision for a felony or Class A misdemeanor. Consistent with §1B1.9 (Class B or C Misdemeanors and Infractions), this chapter does not apply in the case of a defendant under supervision for a Class B or C misdemeanor or an infraction.

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 362).

§7B1.1. Classification of Violations (Policy Statement)

(a) There are three grades of probation and supervised release violations:

(1) Grade A Violations — conduct constituting (A) a federal, state, or local offense punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year that (i) is a crime of violence, (ii) is a controlled substance offense, or (iii) involves possession of a firearm or destructive device of a type described in 26 U.S.C. § 5845(a); or (B) any other federal, state, or local offense punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding twenty years;

(2) Grade B Violations — conduct constituting any other federal, state, or local offense punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year;

(3) Grade C Violations — conduct constituting (A) a federal, state, or local offense punishable by a term of imprisonment of one year or less; or

(B) a violation of any other condition of supervision.

(b) Where there is more than one violation of the conditions of supervision, or the violation includes conduct that constitutes more than one offense, the grade of the violation is determined by the violation having the most serious grade.

Commentary

Application Notes:

1. Under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3563(a)(1) and 3583(d), a mandatory condition of probation and supervised release is that the defendant not commit another federal, state, or local crime. A violation of this condition may be charged whether or not the defendant has been the subject of a separate federal, state, or local prosecution for such conduct. The grade of violation does not depend upon the conduct that is the subject of criminal charges or of which the defendant is convicted in a criminal proceeding. Rather, the grade of the violation is to be based on the defendant’s actual conduct.

2. “Crime of violence” is defined in §4B1.2 (Definitions of Terms Used in Section 4B1.1). See §4B1.2(a) and Application Note 1 of the Commentary to §4B1.2.

3. “Controlled substance offense” is defined in §4B1.2 (Definitions of Terms Used in Section 4B1.1). See §4B1.2(b) and Application Note 1 of the Commentary to §4B1.2.

4. A “firearm or destructive device of a type described in 26 U.S.C. § 5845(a)” includes a shotgun, or a weapon made from a shotgun, with a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length; a weapon made from a shotgun or rifle with an overall length of less than 26 inches; a rifle, or a weapon made from a rifle, with a barrel or barrels of less than 16 inches in length; a machine gun; a muffler or silencer for a firearm; a destructive device; and certain large bore weapons.

5. Where the defendant is under supervision in connection with a felony conviction, or has a prior felony conviction, possession of a firearm (other than a firearm of a type described in 26 U.S.C. § 5845(a)) will generally constitute a Grade B violation, because 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) prohibits a convicted felon from possessing a firearm. The term “generally” is used in the preceding sentence, however, because there are certain limited exceptions to the applicability of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g). See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 925(c).

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 362). Amended effective November 1, 1992 (see Appendix C, amendment 473); November 1, 1997 (see Appendix C, amendment 568); November 1, 2002 (see Appendix C, amendment 646).

§7B1.2. Reporting of Violations of Probation and Supervised Release (Policy Statement)

(a) The probation officer shall promptly report to the court any alleged Grade A or B violation.

(b) The probation officer shall promptly report to the court any alleged Grade C violation unless the officer determines: (1) that such violation is minor, and not part of a continuing pattern of violations; and (2) that non-reporting will not present an undue risk to an individual or the public or be inconsistent with any directive of the court relative to the reporting of violations.

Commentary

Application Note:

1. Under subsection (b), a Grade C violation must be promptly reported to the court unless the probation officer makes an affirmative determination that the alleged violation meets the criteria for non-reporting. For example, an isolated failure to file a monthly report or a minor traffic infraction generally would not require reporting.

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 362).

§7B1.3. Revocation of Probation or Supervised Release (Policy Statement)

(a) (1) Upon a finding of a Grade A or B violation, the court shall revoke probation or supervised release.

(2) Upon a finding of a Grade C violation, the court may (A) revoke probation or supervised release; or (B) extend the term of probation or supervised release and/or modify the conditions of supervision.

(b) In the case of a revocation of probation or supervised release, the applicable range of imprisonment is that set forth in §7B1.4 (Term of Imprisonment).

(c) In the case of a Grade B or C violation —

(1) Where the minimum term of imprisonment determined under §7B1.4 (Term of Imprisonment) is at least one month but not more than six months, the minimum term may be satisfied by (A) a sentence of imprisonment; or (B) a sentence of imprisonment that includes a term of supervised release with a condition that substitutes community confinement or home detention according to the schedule in §5C1.1(e) for any portion of the minimum term; and

(2) Where the minimum term of imprisonment determined under §7B1.4 (Term of Imprisonment) is more than six months but not more than ten months, the minimum term may be satisfied by (A) a sentence of imprisonment; or (B) a sentence of imprisonment that includes a term of supervised release with a condition that substitutes community confinement or home detention according to the schedule in §5C1.1(e), provided that at least one-half of the minimum term is satisfied by imprisonment.

(3) In the case of a revocation based, at least in part, on a violation of a condition specifically pertaining to community confinement, intermittent confinement, or home detention, use of the same or a less restrictive sanction is not recommended.

(d) Any restitution, fine, community confinement, home detention, or intermittent confinement previously imposed in connection with the sentence for which revocation is ordered that remains unpaid or unserved at the time of revocation shall be ordered to be paid or served in addition to the sanction determined under §7B1.4 (Term of Imprisonment), and any such unserved period of community confinement, home detention, or intermittent confinement may be converted to an equivalent period of imprisonment.

(e) Where the court revokes probation or supervised release and imposes a term of imprisonment, it shall increase the term of imprisonment determined under subsections (b), (c), and (d) above by the amount of time in official detention that will be credited toward service of the term of imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b), other than time in official detention resulting from the federal probation or supervised release violation warrant or proceeding.

(f) Any term of imprisonment imposed upon the revocation of probation or supervised release shall be ordered to be served consecutively to any sentence of imprisonment that the defendant is serving, whether or not the sentence of imprisonment being served resulted from the conduct that is the basis of the revocation of probation or supervised release.

(g) (1) If probation is revoked and a term of imprisonment is imposed, the provisions of §§5D1.1-1.3 shall apply to the imposition of a term of supervised release.

(2) If supervised release is revoked, the court may include a requirement that the defendant be placed on a term of supervised release upon release from imprisonment. The length of such a term of supervised release shall not exceed the term of supervised release authorized by statute for the offense that resulted in the original term of supervised release, less any term of imprisonment that was imposed upon revocation of supervised release. 18 U.S.C. § 3583(h).

Commentary

Application Notes:

1. Revocation of probation or supervised release generally is the appropriate disposition in the case of a Grade C violation by a defendant who, having been continued on supervision after a finding of violation, again violates the conditions of his supervision.

2. The provisions for the revocation, as well as early termination and extension, of a term of supervised release are found in 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e), (g)–(i). Under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(h) (effective September 13, 1994), the court, in the case of revocation of supervised release, may order an additional period of supervised release to follow imprisonment.

3. Subsection (e) is designed to ensure that the revocation penalty is not decreased by credit for time in official detention other than time in official detention resulting from the federal probation or supervised release violation warrant or proceeding. Example: A defendant, who was in pre-trial detention for three months, is placed on probation, and subsequently violates that probation. The court finds the violation to be a Grade C violation, determines that the applicable range of imprisonment is 4-10 months, and determines that revocation of probation and imposition of a term of imprisonment of four months is appropriate. Under subsection (e), a sentence of seven months imprisonment would be required because the Bureau of Prisons, under 18 U.S.C. § 3585(b), will allow the defendant three months’ credit toward the term of imprisonment imposed upon revocation.

4. Subsection (f) provides that any term of imprisonment imposed upon the revocation of probation or supervised release shall run consecutively to any sentence of imprisonment being served by the defendant. Similarly, it is the Commission’s recommendation that any sentence of imprisonment for a criminal offense that is imposed after revocation of probation or supervised release be run consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed upon revocation.

5. Intermittent confinement is authorized as a condition of probation during the first year of the term of probation. 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(10). Intermittent confinement is authorized as a condition of supervised release during the first year of supervised release, but only for a violation of a condition of supervised release in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(2) and only when facilities are available. See §5F1.8 (Intermittent Confinement).

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 362). Amended effective November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 427); November 1, 1995 (see Appendix C, amendment 533); November 1, 2002 (see Appendix C, amendment 646); November 1, 2004 (see Appendix C, amendment 664); November 1, 2009 (see Appendix C, amendment 733).

§7B1.4. Term of Imprisonment (Policy Statement)

(a) The range of imprisonment applicable upon revocation is set forth in the following table:

Revocation Table (in months of imprisonment) Criminal History Category* Grade of Violation I II III IV V VI Grade C 3-9 4-10 5-11 6-12 7-13 8-14 Grade B 4-10 6-12 8-14 12-18 18-24 21-27 Grade A (1) Except as provided in subdivision (2) below: 12-18 15-21 18-24 24-30 30-37 33-41 (2) Where the defendant was on probation or supervised release as a result of a sentence for a Class A felony: 24-30 27-33 30-37 37-46 46-57 51-63.

*The criminal history category is the category applicable at the time the defendant originally was sentenced to a term of supervision.

(b) Provided, that —

(1) Where the statutorily authorized maximum term of imprisonment that is imposable upon revocation is less than the minimum of the applicable range, the statutorily authorized maximum term shall be substituted for the applicable range; and

(2) Where the minimum term of imprisonment required by statute, if any, is greater than the maximum of the applicable range, the minimum term of imprisonment required by statute shall be substituted for the applicable range.

(3) In any other case, the sentence upon revocation may be imposed at any point within the applicable range, provided that the sentence —

(A) is not greater than the maximum term of imprisonment authorized by statute; and

(B) is not less than any minimum term of imprisonment required by statute.

Commentary

Application Notes:

1. The criminal history category to be used in determining the applicable range of imprisonment in the Revocation Table is the category determined at the time the defendant originally was sentenced to the term of supervision. The criminal history category is not to be recalculated because the ranges set forth in the Revocation Table have been designed to take into account that the defendant violated supervision. In the rare case in which no criminal history category was determined when the defendant originally was sentenced to the term of supervision being revoked, the court shall determine the criminal history category that would have been applicable at the time the defendant originally was sentenced to the term of supervision. (See the criminal history provisions of §§4A1.1–4B1.4.)

2. Departure from the applicable range of imprisonment in the Revocation Table may be warranted when the court departed from the applicable range for reasons set forth in §4A1.3 (Adequacy of Criminal History Category) in originally imposing the sentence that resulted in supervision. Additionally, an upward departure may be warranted when a defendant, subsequent to the federal sentence resulting in supervision, has been sentenced for an offense that is not the basis of the violation proceeding.

3. In the case of a Grade C violation that is associated with a high risk of new felonious conduct (e.g., a defendant, under supervision for conviction of criminal sexual abuse, violates the condition that he not associate with children by loitering near a schoolyard), an upward departure may be warranted.

4. Where the original sentence was the result of a downward departure (e.g., as a reward for substantial assistance), or a charge reduction that resulted in a sentence below the guideline range applicable to the defendant’s underlying conduct, an upward departure may be warranted.

5. Upon a finding that a defendant violated a condition of probation or supervised release by being in possession of a controlled substance or firearm or by refusing to comply with a condition requiring drug testing, the court is required to revoke probation or supervised release and impose a sentence that includes a term of imprisonment. 18 U.S.C. §§ 3565(b), 3583(g).

6. In the case of a defendant who fails a drug test, the court shall consider whether the availability of appropriate substance abuse programs, or a defendant’s current or past participation in such programs, warrants an exception from the requirement of mandatory revocation and imprisonment under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3565(b) and 3583(g). 18 U.S.C. §§ 3563(a), 3583(d).

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 362); November 1, 1995 (see Appendix C, amendment 533).

§7B1.5. No Credit for Time Under Supervision (Policy Statement)

(a) Upon revocation of probation, no credit shall be given (toward any sentence of imprisonment imposed) for any portion of the term of probation served prior to revocation.

(b) Upon revocation of supervised release, no credit shall be given (toward any term of imprisonment ordered) for time previously served on post-release supervision.

(c) Provided, that in the case of a person serving a period of supervised release on a foreign sentence under the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 4106A, credit shall be given for time on supervision prior to revocation, except that no credit shall be given for any time in escape or absconder status.

Commentary

Application Note:

1. Subsection (c) implements 18 U.S.C. § 4106A(b)(1)(C), which provides that the combined periods of imprisonment and supervised release in transfer treaty cases shall not exceed the term of imprisonment imposed by the foreign court.

Background: This section provides that time served on probation or supervised release is not to be credited in the determination of any term of imprisonment imposed upon revocation. Other aspects of the defendant’s conduct, such as compliance with supervision conditions and adjustment while under supervision, appropriately may be considered by the court in the determination of the sentence to be imposed within the applicable revocation range.

Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 362).