Amendment: Section 2K2.1 is amended in subsection (a)(8) by inserting “, or 18 U.S.C. § 1715” before the period at the end.
The Commentary to §2K2.1 captioned “Statutory Provisions” is amended by inserting after “(k)-(o),” the following: “1715,”.
The Commentary to §2M6.1 captioned “Application Notes” is amended in Note 1 by striking “831(f)(2)” and inserting “831(g)(2)”, and by striking “831(f)(1)” and inserting “831(g)(1)”.
The Commentary to §2T1.6 captioned “Background” is amended by striking “The offense is a felony that is infrequently prosecuted.”.
Chapter Two, Part T, Subpart 2, is amended in the Introductory Commentary by striking “Because these offenses are no longer a major enforcement priority, no effort” and inserting “No effort”.
Section 2T2.1 is amended by striking the Commentary captioned “Background” as follows:
“Background: The most frequently prosecuted conduct violating this section is operating an illegal still. 26 U.S.C. § 5601(a)(1).”.
Section 2T2.2 is amended by striking the Commentary captioned “Background” as follows:
“Background: Prosecutions of this type are infrequent.”.
Appendix A (Statutory Index) is amended by inserting after the line referenced to 18 U.S.C. § 1712 the following:
“18 U.S.C. § 1715 2K2.1”;
by inserting after the line referenced to 18 U.S.C. § 2280 the following:
“18 U.S.C. § 2280a 2A1.1, 2A1.2, 2A1.3, 2A1.4, 2A2.1, 2A2.2, 2A2.3, 2A6.1,
2B1.1, 2B3.2, 2K1.3, 2K1.4, 2M5.2, 2M5.3, 2M6.1, 2Q1.1, 2Q1.2, 2X1.1, 2X2.1, 2X3.1”;
by inserting after the line referenced to 18 U.S.C. § 2281 the following:
“18 U.S.C. § 2281a 2A1.1, 2A1.2, 2A1.3, 2A1.4, 2A2.1, 2A2.2, 2A2.3, 2A6.1,
2B1.1, 2B3.2, 2K1.4, 2M6.1, 2Q1.1, 2Q1.2, 2X1.1”;
and by inserting after the line referenced to 18 U.S.C. § 2332h the following:
“18 U.S.C. § 2332i 2A6.1, 2K1.4, 2M2.1, 2M2.3, 2M6.1”.
Reason for Amendment: This amendment responds to recently enacted legislation and miscellaneous guideline application issues.
USA FREEDOM Act
The Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ensuring Effective Discipline Over Monitoring Act (“USA FREEDOM Act”) of 2015, Pub. L. 114–23 (June 2, 2015), set forth changes to statutes related to maritime navigation and nuclear terrorism and provided new and expanded criminal offenses to implement the United States’ obligations under certain provisions of four international conventions. The USA FREEDOM Act also specified that the new crimes constitute “federal crimes of terrorism.” See 18 U.S.C. § 2332b(g)(5). The amendment responds to the USA FREEDOM Act by referencing the new offenses in Appendix A (Statutory Index) to various Chapter Two guidelines covering murder and assault, weapons, national security, and environmental offenses.
First, the USA FREEDOM Act enacted 18 U.S.C. § 2280a (Violence against maritime navigation and maritime transport involving weapons of mass destruction). Subsections 2280a(a)(1)(A) and (a)(1)(B)(i) prohibit certain acts against maritime navigation committed in a manner that causes or is likely to cause death, serious injury, or damage, when the purpose of the conduct is to intimidate a population or to compel a government or international organization to do or abstain from doing any act. Subsections 2280a(a)(1)(B)(ii)–(vi) prohibit certain other acts against maritime navigation. Subsection 2280a(a)(1)(C) prohibits transporting another person on board a ship knowing the person has committed a violation under 18 U.S.C. § 2280 (Violence against maritime navigation) or certain subsections of section 2280a, or an offense under a listed counterterrorism treaty. Subsection 2280a(a)(1)(D) prohibits injuring or killing a person in connection with the commission of certain offenses under section 2280a. Subsection 2280a(a)(1)(E) prohibits attempts and conspiracies under the statute. The penalty for a violation of these subsections is a term of imprisonment for not more than 20 years. If the death of a person results, the penalty is imprisonment for any term of years or for life. Subsection 2280a(a)(2) prohibits threats to commit offenses under subsection 2280a(a)(1)(A), with a penalty of imprisonment of up to five years.
The new offenses at section 2280a are referenced in Appendix A (Statutory Index) to the following Chapter Two guidelines: §§2A1.1 (First Degree Murder); 2A1.2 (Second Degree Murder); 2A1.3 (Voluntary Manslaughter); 2A1.4 (Involuntary Manslaughter); 2A2.1 (Assault with Intent to Commit Murder; Attempted Murder); 2A2.2 (Aggravated Assault); 2A2.3 (Assault); 2A6.1 (Threatening or Harassing Communications); 2B1.1 (Fraud); 2B3.2 (Extortion); 2K1.3 (Unlawful Receipt, Possession, or Transportation of Explosive Materials; Prohibited Transactions Involving Explosive Materials); 2K1.4 (Arson; Property Damage by Use of Explosives); 2M5.2 (Exportation of Arms, Munitions, or Military Equipment or Services Without Required Validated Export License); 2M5.3 (Providing Material Support or Resources to Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations or Specially Designated Global Terrorists, or For a Terrorist Purpose); 2M6.1 (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons, and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction); 2Q1.1 (Knowing Endangerment Resulting From Mishandling Hazardous or Toxic Substances, Pesticides or Other Pollutants); 2Q1.2 (Mishandling of Hazardous or Toxic Substances or Pesticides); 2X1.1 (Conspiracy); 2X2.1 (Aiding and Abetting); and 2X3.1 (Accessory After the Fact).
Second, the USA FREEDOM Act enacted 18 U.S.C. § 2281a (Additional offenses against maritime fixed platforms). Subsection 2281a(a)(1) prohibits certain acts that occur either on a fixed platform or to a fixed platform committed in a manner that may cause death, serious injury, or damage, when the purpose of the conduct is to intimidate a population or to compel a government or international organization to do or abstain from doing any act. The penalty for a violation of subsection 2281a(a)(1) is a term of imprisonment for not more than 20 years. If the death of a person results, the penalty is imprisonment for any term of years or for life. Subsection 2281a(a)(2) prohibits threats to commit offenses under subsection 2281a(a)(1), and the penalty for a violation of subsection 2281a(a)(2) is imprisonment of up to five years.
The new offenses at 18 U.S.C. § 2281a are referenced to §§2A1.1, 2A1.2, 2A1.3, 2A1.4, 2A2.1, 2A2.2, 2A2.3, 2A6.1, 2B1.1, 2B3.2, 2K1.4, 2M6.1, 2Q1.1, 2Q1.2, and 2X1.1.
Third, the USA FREEDOM Act enacted 18 U.S.C. § 2332i (Acts of nuclear terrorism). Section 2332i prohibits the possession or use of certain radioactive materials or devices with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury or to cause substantial damage to property or the environment, as well as threats to commit any such acts. The penalty for a violation of section 2332i is imprisonment for any term of years or for life.
The new offenses at 18 U.S.C. § 2332i are referenced to §§2A6.1, 2K1.4, 2M2.1 (Destruction of, or Production of Defective, War Material, Premises, or Utilities), 2M2.3 (Destruction of, or Production of Defective, National Defense Material, Premises, or Utilities), and 2M6.1.
The amendment also makes clerical changes to Application Note 1 to §2M6.1 (Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons, and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction) to reflect the redesignation of a section in the United States Code by the USA FREEDOM Act.
The three new statutes provide a wide range of elements – meaning that the statutes can be violated in a large number of alternative ways. The Commission performed a section-by-section analysis of the elements of the new statutes and identified the Chapter Two offense guidelines that appear most analogous. As a result, the Commission determined that referencing the new statutes in Appendix A (Statutory Index) to a range of guidelines will allow the courts to select the most appropriate guideline in light of the nature of the conviction. For example, a reference to §2K1.4 (Arson; Property Damage by Use of Explosives) is provided to account for when the defendant is convicted under section 2280a(a)(1)(A)(i) for the use of an explosive device on a ship in a manner that causes or is likely to cause death or serious injury. See USSG App. A, Introduction (Where the statute is referenced to more than one guideline section, the court is to “use the guideline most appropriate for the offense conduct charged in the count of which the defendant was convicted.”). The Commission also found it persuasive that other similar statutes are referenced in Appendix A to a similar list of Chapter Two guidelines. Referencing these three new statutes in a manner consistent with the treatment of existing related statutes is reasonable to achieve parity, and will lead to consistent application of the guidelines.
Firearms As Nonmailable Items under 18 U.S.C. § 1715
Section 1715 of title 18 of the United States Code (Firearms as nonmailable; regulations) makes it unlawful to deposit for mailing or delivery by the mails pistols, revolvers, and other firearms capable of being concealed on the person, and the penalty for a violation of this statute is a term of imprisonment up to two years. Section 1715 is not referenced in Appendix A (Statutory Index). The amendment amends Appendix A to reference offenses under section 1715 to §2K2.1 (Unlawful Receipt, Possession, or Transportation of Firearms or Ammunition; Prohibited Transactions Involving Firearms or Ammunition). The amendment also amends §2K2.1 to provide a base offense level of 6 under §2K2.1(a)(8) for convictions under section 1715.
The Commission received public comment suggesting that the lack of specific guidance for section 1715 offenses caused unwarranted sentencing disparity. Commission data provided further support for the need for an amendment to address this issue. Although the data indicated that courts routinely applied §2K2.1 to violations of section 1715, it also evidenced that courts were reaching different results in the base offense level applied. The Commission was persuaded by the data and public comment that an Appendix A reference and corresponding changes to §2K2.1 would reduce those unwarranted sentencing disparities. The Commission determined that §2K2.1 is the most analogous guideline for these types of firearms offenses. By providing an Appendix A reference for section 1715, the amendment ensures that §2K2.1 will be consistently applied to these offenses. Moreover, the Commission decided that the accompanying changes to §2K2.1 will eliminate the disparate application of the base offense levels in that guideline. The Commission selected the base offense level of 6 for these offenses because similar statutory provisions with similar penalties are referenced to §2K2.1(a)(8). The Commission concluded that referencing section 1715 will promote consistency in application and avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities.
Background Commentary to §2T1.6 (Failing to Collect or Truthfully Account for and Pay Over Tax)
The Background Commentary in §2T1.6 (Failing to Collect or Truthfully Account for and Pay Over Tax) states that “[t]he offense is a felony that is infrequently prosecuted.” Section 2T1.6 applies to violations of 26 U.S.C. § 7202 (Willful failure to collect or pay over tax) which requires employers to withhold from an employee’s paychecks money representing the employee’s personal income and Social Security taxes. If an employer willfully fails to collect, truthfully account for, or pay over such taxes, 26 U.S.C. § 7202 provides both civil and criminal remedies. The amendment makes a clerical change to the Background Commentary to §2T1.6 to delete the statement that section 7202 offenses are infrequently prosecuted. The amendment makes additional clerical changes in the Introductory Commentary to Chapter Two, Part T, Subpart 2 (Alcohol and Tobacco Taxes), and the Background Commentary to §§2T2.1 (Non-Payment of Taxes) and 2T2.2 (Regulatory Offenses) which has similar language.
The amendment reflects public comment received by the Commission that indicated while the statement in the Background Commentary to §2T1.6 may have been accurate when the commentary was originally written in 1987, the number of prosecutions under section 7202 have since increased. Additionally, the Commission decided that removing language characterizing the frequency of prosecutions for the tax offenses sentenced under §§2T1.6, 2T2.1, and 2T2.2 will remove the perception that the Commission has taken a position regarding the relative frequency of prosecution of such offenses.
Effective Date: The effective date of this amendment is November 1, 2016.