News Release

U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE
Washington, DC 20002-8002

For Immediate Release:
April 11, 2006

Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Affairs Officer
(202) 502-4597


WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 11, 2006) — At its April 5 public meeting, the United States Sentencing Commission voted to promulgate and submit to Congress sentencing guideline amendments regarding offenses that include terrorism, firearms, and steroids. The Commission, an independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government, was established in 1985 to develop national sentencing guidelines for the federal courts. Any amendments made by the Commission to the guidelines must be submitted to Congress on or before May 1 of each year and become effective on November 1 if not disapproved by Congress.

The Commission voted to re-promulgate as permanent amendments –

  • an emergency amendment to the sentencing guidelines that increased the penalties for offenses involving anabolic steroids. The emergency amendment implemented a congressional directive and became effective March 27, 2006.

The amendment changes the manner in which anabolic steroids are treated by the guidelines and eliminates the sentencing distinction between anabolic steroids and other Schedule III substances when the steroid is in a pill, capsule, tablet or liquid form.

The amendment also provides penalty increases if the offense involved the distribution of an anabolic steroid and a masking agent and if the defendant distributed an anabolic steroid to an athlete. If the defendant used his or her position as a coach to influence an athlete to use an anabolic steroid, an additional sentencing enhancement would apply.

  • an emergency amendment to the sentencing guideline for obstruction of justice. This amendment provides a substantial increase in the sentence when the statutory maximum term of imprisonment relating to international or domestic terrorism is applicable. The amendment became effective October 24, 2005, on an emergency basis in response to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.
  • an emergency amendment implementing the directive in the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 that required the Commission to review and, if appropriate, amend the sentencing guidelines and policy statements for persons convicted of intellectual property rights crimes. The amendment, which took emergency effect on October 24, 2005, provides an enhancement if the offense involved a pre-release work. It also explains that in cases involving pre-release works, the infringement amount should be determined by using the retail value of the infringed item. The amendment provides that, in cases in which the court cannot determine the number of infringing items, the court may make a reasonable estimate of the infringement amount.

The Commission also voted to promulgate –

  • an amendment implementing a number of provisions of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The amendment addresses new offenses created by the Act, relating to (1) participation in nuclear, and weapons of mass destruction, threats to the U.S.; (2) the production or transfer of missile systems designed to destroy aircraft; (3) production, transfer, receipt, possession, or threat to use, any radiological dispersal device; and (4) the production, acquisition, transfer, or possession of, or the threat to use the variola virus.
  • an amendment to the firearms guideline that, among other things, provides an enhancement if the offense involved a firearm with altered or obliterated serial numbers or if the defendant engaged in the trafficking of firearms.
  • an amendment deleting 2004 commentary to the organizational sentencing guidelines stating that waiver of attorney-client privileges and work product protections is not a pre-requisite for an organization to receive credit for cooperation at sentencing. The Commission had held public hearings on November 15, 2005, and March 15, 2006, concerning this issue.
  • a policy statement regarding Bureau of Prisons’s motions for reductions in term of imprisonment. The Commission also voted to seek further public comment on the issue.
  • a policy statement restating a crime victim’s “right to be reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding,” in response to the Justice for All Act of 2004.
  • a new guideline, responding to the Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Administration Act of 2004 in regard to false registration of a domain name.
  • an amendment implementing a new offense created by the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 regarding the transmission of commercial electronic messages that contain “sexually oriented material.

United States Sentencing Commission: