Criminal Law

Multiple Counts - Adjustments

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§3D1.2GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

Examples: (1) The defendant is convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit extortion and one count of extortion for the offense he conspired to commit. The counts are to be grouped together. (2) The defendant is convicted of two counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud, each in furtherance of a single fraudulent scheme. The counts are to be grouped together, even if the mailings and telephone call occurred on different days. (3) The defendant is convicted of one count of auto theft and one count of altering the vehicle identification number of the car he stole. The counts are to be grouped together. (4) The defendant is convicted of two counts of distributing a controlled substance, each count involving a separate sale of 10 grams of cocaine that is part of a common scheme or plan. In addition, a finding is made that there are two other sales, also part of the common scheme or plan, each involving 10 grams of cocaine. The total amount of all four sales (40 grams of cocaine) will be used to determine the offense level for each count under §1B1.3(a)(2). The two counts will then be grouped together under either this subsection or subsection (d) to avoid double counting. But: (5) The defendant is convicted of two counts of rape for raping the same person on different days. The counts are not to be grouped together.

5. Subsection (c) provides that when conduct that represents a separate count, e.g., bodily injury or obstruction of justice, is also a specific offense characteristic in or other adjustment to another count, the count represented by that conduct is to be grouped with the count to which it constitutes an aggravating factor. This provision prevents "double counting" of offense behavior. Of course, this rule applies only if the offenses are closely related. It is not, for example, the intent of this rule that (assuming they could be joined together) a bank robbery on one occasion and an assault resulting in bodily injury on another occasion be grouped together. The bodily injury (the harm from the assault) would not be a specific offense characteristic to the robbery and would represent a different harm. On the other hand, use of a firearm in a bank robbery and unlawful possession of that firearm are sufficiently related to warrant grouping of counts under this subsection. Frequently, this provision will overlap subsection (a), at least with respect to specific offense characteristics. However, a count such as obstruction of justice, which represents a Chapter Three adjustment and involves a different harm or societal interest than the underlying offense, is covered by subsection (c) even though it is not covered by subsection (a).

Sometimes there may be several counts, each of which could be treated as an aggravating factor to another more serious count, but the guideline for the more serious count provides an adjustment for only one occurrence of that factor. In such cases, only the count representing the most serious of those factors is to be grouped with the other count. For example, if in a robbery of a credit union on a military base the defendant is also convicted of assaulting two employees, one of whom is injured seriously, the assault with serious bodily injury would be grouped with the robbery count, while the remaining assault conviction would be treated separately.

A cross reference to another offense guideline does not constitute "a specific offense characteristic ... or other adjustment" within the meaning of subsection (c). For example, the guideline for bribery of a public official contains a cross reference to the guideline for a conspiracy to commit the offense that the bribe was to facilitate. Nonetheless, if the defendant were convicted of one count of securities fraud and one count of bribing a public official to facilitate the fraud, the two counts would not be grouped together by virtue of the cross reference. If, however, the bribe was given for the purpose of hampering a criminal investigation into the offense, it would constitute obstruction and under §3C1.1 would result

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