Dangerous Weapon

An instrument capable of inflicting death or serious bodily injury, or an object that closely resembles such an instrument. The definition of dangerous weapon in §1B1.1 also includes anything a defendant might use to give the impression of a dangerous weapon.


An individual who has been accused of a crime in a court proceeding. If a defendant is convicted of a crime, he or she may be referred to as an “offender”.

Defense Attorney

A lawyer who represents a defendant in a criminal proceeding.

Denial of Federal Benefits

The court has the statutory authority under 21 U.S.C. § 862 to deny the eligibility for certain federal benefits to any person convicted of distribution or possession of a controlled substance (§5F1.6).

Denial of Service Attack (DoS)

DoS is used against a website or computer network to make it temporarily unresponsive. This is often achieved by sending so many simultaneous content requests to the site that the server overloads. Content requests are the instructions sent, for instance, from your browser to a website that enables you to view content on that website. Some groups have used DoS attacks as a protest tool while others have used them for financial gain.


A sentence outside the guideline range in accordance with the Guidelines Manual. Chapter Five, Part K lists factors that may constitute grounds for departure, and other departures are located throughout the Guidelines Manual. However, there may be other grounds for departure that are not mentioned in the guidelines. Departures can be above or below the guideline range. The most commonly applied departure is the downward departure based on the defendant’s substantial assistance to the government in the investigation or prosecution of others. The substantial assistance departure is found at §5K1.1 of the Guidelines Manual.


The act of removing a non-citizen from the United States to another country.

Destructive Device

An article specifically described by statute (26 U.S.C. § 5845(f)) that has an explosive or incendiary nature.

Diminished Capacity

The guidelines provide for a downward departure if the defendant suffers from a significantly reduced mental capacity that contributed substantially to the commission of the offense (§5K2.13).

Discharged Term of Imprisonment

A term of imprisonment that has been completed.


The power of a judge to make an independent decision concerning an issue based on his or her opinion informed by general legal principles rather than based on fixed legal rules. Ordinarily, an appellate court will not reverse a lower court’s discretionary decisions, unless the judge clearly “abused” his or her discretion.

Discretionary Conditions

Non-mandatory conditions that the court may place on a defendant who is on probation or supervised release. The court may impose certain conditions based on the defendant’s background or the particular circumstances of the case.

Dismissed Conduct

Conduct constituting an offense that was originally charged in an indictment and later dismissed by the court. The guidelines allow the court to consider dismissed conduct at sentencing if the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant committed the conduct.

Diversionary Disposition

A diversionary disposition allows the defendant to avoid receiving a criminal conviction if the defendant successfully completes certain conditions of pretrial or probationary supervision. Diversionary dispositions are not counted for criminal history unless there is a finding of guilt by the court (§4A1.2(f)).

Double Counting

The application of more than one specific offense characteristic or adjustment related to the same conduct. The Guidelines Manual provides specific instructions regarding when not to apply certain specific offense characteristics or adjustments if another guidelines provision already accounted for the conduct. The default rule is that it is permissible to apply more than one provision based on the same conduct unless the guidelines specifically say not to do so.

Drug Equivalency Tables

The Drug Equivalency Tables provide marijuana equivalents for various controlled substances not otherwise addressed in the guidelines’ Drug Quantity Table.


The guidelines provide for a downward departure if the defendant committed the offense because of serious threats, coercion, or pressure. (§5K2.12).