2012 GUIDELINES MANUAL
CHAPTER FIVE - DETERMINING THE SENTENCE
PART E - RESTITUTION, FINES, ASSESSMENTS, FORFEITURES
§5E1.2. Fines for Individual Defendants
(a) The court shall impose a fine in all cases, except where the defendant establishes that he is unable to pay and is not likely to become able to pay any fine.
(b) The applicable fine guideline range is that specified in subsection (c) below. If, however, the guideline for the offense in Chapter Two provides a specific rule for imposing a fine, that rule takes precedence over subsection (c) of this section.
(c) (1) The minimum of the fine guideline range is the amount shown in column A of the table below.
(2) Except as specified in (4) below, the maximum of the fine guideline range is the amount shown in column B of the table below.
(3) Fine Table
|3 and below||$100||$5,000|
|38 and above||$25,000||$250,000.|
(4) Subsection (c)(2), limiting the maximum fine, does not apply if the defendant is convicted under a statute authorizing (A) a maximum fine greater than $250,000, or (B) a fine for each day of violation. In such cases, the court may impose a fine up to the maximum authorized by the statute.
(d) In determining the amount of the fine, the court shall consider:
(1) the need for the combined sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offense (including the harm or loss to the victim and the gain to the defendant), to promote respect for the law, to provide just punishment and to afford adequate deterrence;
(2) any evidence presented as to the defendant's ability to pay the fine (including the ability to pay over a period of time) in light of his earning capacity and financial resources;
(3) the burden that the fine places on the defendant and his dependents relative to alternative punishments;
(4) any restitution or reparation that the defendant has made or is obligated to make;
(5) any collateral consequences of conviction, including civil obligations arising from the defendant's conduct;
(6) whether the defendant previously has been fined for a similar offense;
(7) the expected costs to the government of any term of probation, or term of imprisonment and term of supervised release imposed; and
(8) any other pertinent equitable considerations.
The amount of the fine should always be sufficient to ensure that the fine, taken together with other sanctions imposed, is punitive.
(e) If the defendant establishes that (1) he is not able and, even with the use of a reasonable installment schedule, is not likely to become able to pay all or part of the fine required by the preceding provisions, or (2) imposition of a fine would unduly burden the defendant's dependents, the court may impose a lesser fine or waive the fine. In these circumstances, the court shall consider alternative sanctions in lieu of all or a portion of the fine, and must still impose a total combined sanction that is punitive. Although any additional sanction not proscribed by the guidelines is permissible, community service is the generally preferable alternative in such instances.
(f) If the defendant establishes that payment of the fine in a lump sum would have an unduly severe impact on him or his dependents, the court should establish an installment schedule for payment of the fine. The length of the installment schedule generally should not exceed twelve months, and shall not exceed the maximum term of probation authorized for the offense. The defendant should be required to pay a substantial installment at the time of sentencing. If the court authorizes a defendant sentenced to probation or supervised release to pay a fine on an installment schedule, the court shall require as a condition of probation or supervised release that the defendant pay the fine according to the schedule. The court also may impose a condition prohibiting the defendant from incurring new credit charges or opening additional lines of credit unless he is in compliance with the payment schedule.
(g) If the defendant knowingly fails to pay a delinquent fine, the court shall resentence him in accordance with 18 U.S.C. § 3614.
1. A fine may be the sole sanction if the guidelines do not require a term of imprisonment. If, however, the fine is not paid in full at the time of sentencing, it is recommended that the court sentence the defendant to a term of probation, with payment of the fine as a condition of probation. If a fine is imposed in addition to a term of imprisonment, it is recommended that the court impose a term of supervised release following imprisonment as a means of enforcing payment of the fine.
2. In general, the maximum fine permitted by law as to each count of conviction is $250,000 for a felony or for any misdemeanor resulting in death; $100,000 for a Class A misdemeanor; and $5,000 for any other offense. 18 U.S.C. § 3571(b)(3)-(7). However, higher or lower limits may apply when specified by statute. 18 U.S.C. § 3571(b)(1), (e). As an alternative maximum, the court may fine the defendant up to the greater of twice the gross gain or twice the gross loss. 18 U.S.C. § 3571(b)(2), (d).
3. The determination of the fine guideline range may be dispensed with entirely upon a court determination of present and future inability to pay any fine. The inability of a defendant to post bail bond (having otherwise been determined eligible for release) and the fact that a defendant is represented by (or was determined eligible for) assigned counsel are significant indicators of present inability to pay any fine. In conjunction with other factors, they may also indicate that the defendant is not likely to become able to pay any fine.
4. The Commission envisions that for most defendants, the maximum of the guideline fine range from subsection (c) will be at least twice the amount of gain or loss resulting from the offense. Where, however, two times either the amount of gain to the defendant or the amount of loss caused by the offense exceeds the maximum of the fine guideline, an upward departure from the fine guideline may be warranted.
Moreover, where a sentence within the applicable fine guideline range would not be sufficient to ensure both the disgorgement of any gain from the offense that otherwise would not be disgorged (e.g., by restitution or forfeiture) and an adequate punitive fine, an upward departure from the fine guideline range may be warranted.
5. Subsection (c)(4) applies to statutes that contain special provisions permitting larger fines; the guidelines do not limit maximum fines in such cases. These statutes include, among others: 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b) and 960(b), which authorize fines up to $8 million in offenses involving the manufacture, distribution, or importation of certain controlled substances; 21 U.S.C. § 848(a), which authorizes fines up to $4 million in offenses involving the manufacture or distribution of controlled substances by a continuing criminal enterprise; 18 U.S.C. § 1956(a), which authorizes a fine equal to the greater of $500,000 or two times the value of the monetary instruments or funds involved in offenses involving money laundering of financial instruments; 18 U.S.C. § 1957(b)(2), which authorizes a fine equal to two times the amount of any criminally derived property involved in a money laundering transaction; 33 U.S.C. § 1319(c), which authorizes a fine of up to $50,000 per day for violations of the Water Pollution Control Act; 42 U.S.C. § 6928(d), which authorizes a fine of up to $50,000 per day for violations of the Resource Conservation Act; and 2 U.S.C. § 437g(d)(1)(D), which authorizes, for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act under 2 U.S.C. § 441f, a fine up to the greater of $50,000 or 1,000 percent of the amount of the violation, and which requires, in the case of such a violation, a minimum fine of not less than 300 percent of the amount of the violation.
There may be cases in which the defendant has entered into a conciliation agreement with the Federal Election Commission under section 309 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 in order to correct or prevent a violation of such Act by the defendant. The existence of a conciliation agreement between the defendant and Federal Election Commission, and the extent of compliance with that conciliation agreement, may be appropriate factors in determining at what point within the applicable fine guideline range to sentence the defendant, unless the defendant began negotiations toward a conciliation agreement after becoming aware of a criminal investigation.
6. The existence of income or assets that the defendant failed to disclose may justify a larger fine than that which otherwise would be warranted under this section. The court may base its conclusion as to this factor on information revealing significant unexplained expenditures by the defendant or unexplained possession of assets that do not comport with the defendant's reported income. If the court concludes that the defendant willfully misrepresented all or part of his income or assets, it may increase the offense level and resulting sentence in accordance with Chapter Three, Part C (Obstruction and Related Adjustments).
7. In considering subsection (d)(7), the court may be guided by reports published by the Bureau of Prisons and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts concerning average costs.
Historical Note: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective January 15, 1988 (see Appendix C, amendment 54); November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendments 280, 281, and 302); November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendment 356); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 384); November 1, 1997 (see Appendix C, amendment 572); November 1, 2002 (see Appendix C, amendment 646); January 25, 2003 (see Appendix C, amendment 648); November 1, 2003 (see Appendix C, amendment 656); November 1, 2011 (see Appendix C, amendment 758).