§3D1.5.     Determining the Total Punishment

Use the combined offense level to determine the appropriate sentence in accordance with the provisions of Chapter Five.


This section refers the court to Chapter Five (Determining the Sentence) in order to determine the total punishment to be imposed based upon the combined offense level.  The combined offense level is subject to adjustments from Chapter Three, Part E (Acceptance of Responsibility) and Chapter Four, Part B (Career Offenders and Criminal Livelihood).  

Historical Note:  Effective November 1, 1987.

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Illustrations of the Operation of the Multiple-Count Rules

The following examples, drawn from presentence reports in the Commission's files, illustrate the operation of the guidelines for multiple counts.  The examples are discussed summarily; a more thorough, step-by-step approach is recommended until the user is thoroughly familiar with the guidelines. 

1.     Defendant A was convicted on four counts, each charging robbery of a different bank.  Each would represent a distinct Group.  §3D1.2.  In each of the first three robberies, the offense level was 22 (20 plus a 2-level increase because a financial institution was robbed) (§2B3.1(b)).  In the fourth robbery $12,000 was taken and a firearm was displayed; the offense level was therefore 28.  As the first three counts are 6 levels lower than the fourth, each of the first three represents one-half unit for purposes of §3D1.4.  Altogether there are 2 1/2 Units, and the offense level for the most serious (28) is therefore increased by 3 levels under the table.  The combined offense level is 31. 

2.     Defendant C was convicted on four counts:  (1) distribution of 230 grams of cocaine; (2) distribution of 150 grams of cocaine; (3) distribution of 75 grams of heroin; (4) offering a DEA agent $20,000 to avoid prosecution.  The combined offense level for drug offenses is determined by the total quantity of drugs, converted to marihuana equivalents (using the Drug Equivalency Tables in the Commentary to §2D1.1 (Unlawful Manufacturing, Importing, Exporting, or Trafficking)).  The first count translates into 46 kilograms of marihuana; the second count translates into 30 kilograms of marihuana; and the third count translates into 75 kilograms of marihuana.  The total is 151 kilograms of marihuana.  Under §2D1.1, the combined offense level for the drug offenses is 26.  In addition, because of the attempted bribe of the DEA agent, this offense level is increased by 2 levels to 28 under §3C1.1 (Obstructing or Impeding the Administration of Justice).  Because the conduct constituting the bribery offense is accounted for by §3C1.1, it becomes part of the same Group as the drug offenses pursuant to §3D1.2(c).  The combined offense level is 28 pursuant to §3D1.3(a), because the offense level for bribery (22) is less than the offense level for the drug offenses (28). 

3.     Defendant D was convicted of four counts arising out of a scheme pursuant to which the defendant received kickbacks from subcontractors.  The counts were as follows:  (1) The defendant received $27,000 from subcontractor A relating to contract X (Mail Fraud).  (2) The defendant received $12,000 from subcontractor A relating to contract X (Commercial Bribery).  (3) The defendant received $15,000 from subcontractor A relating to contract Y (Mail Fraud).  (4) The defendant received $20,000 from subcontractor B relating to contract Z (Commercial Bribery).  The mail fraud counts are covered by §2B1.1 (Theft, Property Destruction, and Fraud).  The bribery counts are covered by §2B4.1 (Bribery in Procurement of Bank Loan and Other Commercial Bribery), which treats the offense as a sophisticated fraud.  The total money involved is $74,000, which results in an offense level of 16 under either §2B1.1 (assuming the application of the "sophisticated means" enhancement in §2B1.1(b)(10)) or §2B4.1.  Since these two guidelines produce identical offense levels, the combined offense level is 16.

Historical Note:  Effective November 1, 1987.  Amended effective November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendment 303); November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 350); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 417); November 1, 1995 (see Appendix C, amendment 534); November 1, 2001 (see Appendix C, amendment 617); November 1, 2009 (see Appendix C, amendment 737); November 1, 2011 (see Appendix C, amendment 760).