Criminal Law

Multiple Counts - Adjustments

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§3D1.2GUIDELINES MANUALNovember 1, 2005

determine the combined offense level based upon the substantive counts of which the defendant is convicted and the various acts cited by the conspiracy count that would constitute behavior of a substantive nature. Example: The defendant is convicted of two counts: conspiring to commit offenses A, B, and C, and committing offense A. Treat this as if the defendant was convicted of (1) committing offense A; (2) conspiracy to commit offense A; (3) conspiracy to commit offense B; and (4) conspiracy to commit offense C. Count (1) and count (2) are grouped together under §3D1.2(b). Group the remaining counts, including the various acts cited by the conspiracy count that would constitute behavior of a substantive nature, according to the rules in this section.

Background: Ordinarily, the first step in determining the combined offense level in a case involving multiple counts is to identify those counts that are sufficiently related to be placed in the same Group of Closely Related Counts ("Group"). This section specifies four situations in which counts are to be grouped together. Although it appears last for conceptual reasons, subsection (d) probably will be used most frequently.

A primary consideration in this section is whether the offenses involve different victims. For example, a defendant may stab three prison guards in a single escape attempt. Some would argue that all counts arising out of a single transaction or occurrence should be grouped together even when there are distinct victims. Although such a proposal was considered, it was rejected because it probably would require departure in many cases in order to capture adequately the criminal behavior. Cases involving injury to distinct victims are sufficiently comparable, whether or not the injuries are inflicted in distinct transactions, so that each such count should be treated separately rather than grouped together. Counts involving different victims (or societal harms in the case of "victimless" crimes) are grouped together only as provided in subsection (c) or (d).

Even if counts involve a single victim, the decision as to whether to group them together may not always be clear cut. For example, how contemporaneous must two assaults on the same victim be in order to warrant grouping together as constituting a single transaction or occurrence? Existing case law may provide some guidance as to what constitutes distinct offenses, but such decisions often turn on the technical language of the statute and cannot be controlling. In interpreting this Part and resolving ambiguities, the court should look to the underlying policy of this Part as stated in the Introductory Commentary.

Historical Note:: Effective November 1, 1987. Amended effective June 15, 1988 (see Appendix C, amendment 45); November 1, 1989 (see Appendix C, amendments 121, 253-256, and 303); November 1, 1990 (see Appendix C, amendments 309, 348, and 349); November 1, 1991 (see Appendix C, amendment 417); November 1, 1992 (see Appendix C, amendment 458); November 1, 1993 (see Appendix C, amendment 496); November 1, 1995 (see Appendix C, amendment 534); November 1, 1996 (see Appendix C, amendment 538); November 1, 1998 (see Appendix C, amendment 579); November 1, 2001 (see Appendix C, amendments 615, 617, and 634); November 1, 2002 (see Appendix C, amendment 638); January 25, 2003 (see Appendix C, amendment 648); November 1, 2003 (see Appendix C, amendment 656); November 1, 2004 (see Appendix C, amendment 664); November 1, 2005 (see Appendix C, amendments 679 and 680).

§3D1.3. Offense Level Applicable to Each Group of Closely Related Counts

Determine the offense level applicable to each of the Groups as follows:

(a) In the case of counts grouped together pursuant to §3D1.2(a)-(c), the offense level applicable to a Group is the offense level, determined in accordance with Chapter Two and Parts A, B, and C of Chapter Three, for the most serious of the

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