Criminal Law

Environment - Offenses Involving the Environment

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November 1, 2005GUIDELINES MANUAL§2Q1.2

a departure of up to two levels in either direction from the offense levels prescribed in these specific offense characteristics may be appropriate.

6. Subsection (b)(2) applies to offenses where the public health is seriously endangered. Depending upon the nature of the risk created and the number of people placed at risk, a departure of up to three levels upward or downward may be warranted. If death or serious bodily injury results, a departure would be called for. See Chapter Five, Part K (Departures).

7. Subsection (b)(3) provides an enhancement where a public disruption, evacuation or cleanup at substantial expense has been required. Depending upon the nature of the contamination involved, a departure of up to two levels either upward or downward could be warranted.

8. Subsection (b)(4) applies where the offense involved violation of a permit, or where there was a failure to obtain a permit when one was required. Depending upon the nature and quantity of the substance involved and the risk associated with the offense, a departure of up to two levels either upward or downward may be warranted.

9. Other Upward Departure Provisions.—

(A) Civil Adjudications and Failure to Comply with Administrative Order.—In a case in which the defendant has previously engaged in similar misconduct established by a civil adjudication or has failed to comply with an administrative order, an upward departure may be warranted. See §4A1.3 (Departures Based on Inadequacy of Criminal History Category).

(B) Extreme Psychological Injury.—If the offense caused extreme psychological injury, an upward departure may be warranted. See §5K2.3 (Extreme Psychological Injury).

(C) Terrorism.—If the offense was calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct, an upward departure would be warranted. See Application Note 4 of the Commentary to §3A1.4 (Terrorism).

Background: This section applies both to substantive violations of the statute governing the handling of pesticides and toxic and hazardous substances and to recordkeeping offenses. The first four specific offense characteristics provide enhancements when the offense involved a substantive violation. The last two specific offense characteristics apply to recordkeeping offenses. Although other sections of the guidelines generally prescribe a base offense level of 6 for regulatory violations, §2Q1.2 prescribes a base offense level of 8 because of the inherently dangerous nature of hazardous and toxic substances and pesticides. A decrease of 2 levels is provided, however, for "simple recordkeeping or reporting violations" under §2Q1.2(b)(6).

Historical Note:: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective November 1, 1993 (see Appendix C, amendment 481); November 1, 1997 (see Appendix C, amendment 553); November 1, 2004 (see Appendix C, amendment 672).

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