(June 2016) This primer discusses issues related to adjustments pursuant to United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) §§3B1.1 and 3B1.2 based on the defendant’s aggravating or mitigating role in the offense. This primer addresses some of the procedural questions related to the adjustments, the definitions of terms used in the adjustments, and issues concerning the adjustments’ application. It is not, however, intended as a comprehensive compilation of all case law addressing these issues.
Together, §§3B1.1 and 3B1.2 serve the guidelines’ objective of ensuring that sentences appropriately reflect the defendant’s culpability and specific offense conduct. To this end, §3B1.1 increases the defendant’s base offense level if he or she served as an organizer, leader, manager or supervisor in certain criminal activity, whereas §3B1.2 decreases the defendant’s base offense level if he or she served as only a minor or minimal participant in the criminal activity.