News Release

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

For Immediate Release
November 1, 2005

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


Aggravated Identity Theft and Antitrust Amendments Also Become Effective

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 1, 2005) — In response to the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, the United States Sentencing Commission has promulgated an emergency amendment to the sentencing guideline for obstruction of justice. This amendment provides a 12-level increase in the base offense level when the statutory maximum term of imprisonment relating to international or domestic terrorism is applicable. The increase of 12 levels is intended to provide parity with the treatment of federal crimes of terrorism within the limits of the eight-year statutory maximum penalty specified by the Act. It is also provided to ensure a five-year sentence of imprisonment for offenses that involve international or domestic terrorism. The amendment became effective October 24, 2005.

The Commission also promulgated 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 applicable to persons convicted of intellectual property rights crimes. The amendment, which became effective October 24, 2005, provides a two-level 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.

In response to the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act of July 15, 2004, the Commission has promulgated a new guideline for aggravated identity theft. The guideline is consistent with the new statutory provisions enacted by Congress that provide for consecutive mandatory minimum sentences of two and five years, depending on the underlying associated offense involving the misuse of stolen identification. The Commission also increased penalties for defendants who exceed or abuse the authority of their position in order to obtain unlawfully or misuse means of identification.

The amendment to the antitrust guideline responds to the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act of 2004, which increased the statutory maximum term of imprisonment for Sherman Act violations from three years to ten years. The amendment provides heightened penalties for antitrust offenses and includes a new "volume of commerce" table. This new table recognizes the depreciation in the value of the dollar since the table was last revised in 1991, responds to data indicating that the financial magnitude of antitrust offenses has increased significantly, and provides greater deterrence to large-scale price-fixing crimes.

The guideline amendments regarding aggravated identity theft and antitrust violations take effect November 1, 2005.

The full text of the 2005 Guidelines Manual, which includes the amendments effective October 24, 2005, and November 1, 2005, is available on the Commission’s web site at

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, an independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines structure the courts’ sentencing discretion to help ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive similar sentences.