Criminal Law

Offenses Involving the Administration of Justice

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§2J1.2GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

(A) Inapplicability of Chapter Three, Part C.—For offenses covered under this section, Chapter Three, Part C (Obstruction) does not apply, unless the defendant obstructed the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of the obstruction of justice count.

(B) Interaction with Terrorism Adjustment.—If §3A1.4 (Terrorism) applies, do not apply subsection (b)(1)(B).

3. Convictions for the Underlying Offense.—In the event that the defendant is convicted of an offense sentenced under this section as well as for the underlying offense (i.e., the offense that is the object of the obstruction), see the Commentary to Chapter Three, Part C (Obstruction), and to §3D1.2(c) (Groups of Closely Related Counts).

4. Upward Departure Considerations.—If a weapon was used, or bodily injury or significant property damage resulted, an upward departure may be warranted. See Chapter Five, Part K (Departures). In a case involving an act of extreme violence (for example, retaliating against a government witness by throwing acid in the witness’s face), an upward departure would be warranted.

5. Subsection (b)(1).—The inclusion of "property damage" under subsection (b)(1) is designed to address cases in which property damage is caused or threatened as a means of intimidation or retaliation (e.g., to intimidate a witness from, or retaliate against a witness for, testifying). Subsection (b)(1) is not intended to apply, for example, where the offense consisted of destroying a ledger containing an incriminating entry.

Background: This section addresses offenses involving the obstruction of justice generally prosecuted under the above-referenced statutory provisions. Numerous offenses of varying seriousness may constitute obstruction of justice: using threats or force to intimidate or influence a juror or federal officer; obstructing a civil or administrative proceeding; stealing or altering court records; unlawfully intercepting grand jury deliberations; obstructing a criminal investigation; obstructing a state or local investigation of illegal gambling; using intimidation or force to influence testimony, alter evidence, evade legal process, or obstruct the communication of a judge or law enforcement officer; or causing a witness bodily injury or property damage in retaliation for providing testimony, information or evidence in a federal proceeding. The conduct that gives rise to the violation may, therefore, range from a mere threat to an act of extreme violence.

The specific offense characteristics reflect the more serious forms of obstruction. Because the conduct covered by this guideline is frequently part of an effort to avoid punishment for an offense that the defendant has committed or to assist another person to escape punishment for an offense, a cross reference to §2X3.1 (Accessory After the Fact) is provided. Use of this cross reference will provide an enhanced offense level when the obstruction is in respect to a particularly serious offense, whether such offense was committed by the defendant or another person.

Historical Note:: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendments 172-174); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 401); January 25, 2003 (see Appendix C, amendment 647); November 1, 2003 (see Appendix C, amendment 653); October 24, 2005 (see Appendix C, amendment 676).

§2J1.3. Perjury or Subornation of Perjury; Bribery of Witness

(a) Base Offense Level: 14

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