18 U.S.C.
United States Code, 2011 Edition
Title 18 - CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
PART II - CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 227 - SENTENCES
SUBCHAPTER A - GENERAL PROVISIONS
Sec. 3559 - Sentencing classification of offenses
From the U.S. Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov

§3559. Sentencing classification of offenses

(a) Classification.—An offense that is not specifically classified by a letter grade in the section defining it, is classified if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is—

(1) life imprisonment, or if the maximum penalty is death, as a Class A felony;

(2) twenty-five years or more, as a Class B felony;

(3) less than twenty-five years but ten or more years, as a Class C felony;

(4) less than ten years but five or more years, as a Class D felony;

(5) less than five years but more than one year, as a Class E felony;

(6) one year or less but more than six months, as a Class A misdemeanor;

(7) six months or less but more than thirty days, as a Class B misdemeanor;

(8) thirty days or less but more than five days, as a Class C misdemeanor; or

(9) five days or less, or if no imprisonment is authorized, as an infraction.


(b) Effect of Classification.—Except as provided in subsection (c), an offense classified under subsection (a) carries all the incidents assigned to the applicable letter designation, except that the maximum term of imprisonment is the term authorized by the law describing the offense.

(c) Imprisonment of Certain Violent Felons.—

(1) Mandatory life imprisonment.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person who is convicted in a court of the United States of a serious violent felony shall be sentenced to life imprisonment if—

(A) the person has been convicted (and those convictions have become final) on separate prior occasions in a court of the United States or of a State of—

(i) 2 or more serious violent felonies; or

(ii) one or more serious violent felonies and one or more serious drug offenses; and


(B) each serious violent felony or serious drug offense used as a basis for sentencing under this subsection, other than the first, was committed after the defendant's conviction of the preceding serious violent felony or serious drug offense.


(2) Definitions.—For purposes of this subsection—

(A) the term “assault with intent to commit rape” means an offense that has as its elements engaging in physical contact with another person or using or brandishing a weapon against another person with intent to commit aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse (as described in sections 2241 and 2242);

(B) the term “arson” means an offense that has as its elements maliciously damaging or destroying any building, inhabited structure, vehicle, vessel, or real property by means of fire or an explosive;

(C) the term “extortion” means an offense that has as its elements the extraction of anything of value from another person by threatening or placing that person in fear of injury to any person or kidnapping of any person;

(D) the term “firearms use” means an offense that has as its elements those described in section 924(c) or 929(a), if the firearm was brandished, discharged, or otherwise used as a weapon and the crime of violence or drug trafficking crime during and relation to which the firearm was used was subject to prosecution in a court of the United States or a court of a State, or both;

(E) the term “kidnapping” means an offense that has as its elements the abduction, restraining, confining, or carrying away of another person by force or threat of force;

(F) the term “serious violent felony” means—

(i) a Federal or State offense, by whatever designation and wherever committed, consisting of murder (as described in section 1111); manslaughter other than involuntary manslaughter (as described in section 1112); assault with intent to commit murder (as described in section 113(a)); assault with intent to commit rape; aggravated sexual abuse and sexual abuse (as described in sections 2241 and 2242); abusive sexual contact (as described in sections 2244(a)(1) and (a)(2)); kidnapping; aircraft piracy (as described in section 46502 of Title 49); robbery (as described in section 2111, 2113, or 2118); carjacking (as described in section 2119); extortion; arson; firearms use; firearms possession (as described in section 924(c)); or attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above offenses; and

(ii) any other offense punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years or more that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another or that, by its nature, involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person of another may be used in the course of committing the offense;


(G) the term “State” means a State of the United States, the District of Columbia, and a commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States; and

(H) the term “serious drug offense” means—

(i) an offense that is punishable under section 401(b)(1)(A) or 408 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(A), 848) or section 1010(b)(1)(A) of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 960(b)(1)(A)); or

(ii) an offense under State law that, had the offense been prosecuted in a court of the United States, would have been punishable under section 401(b)(1)(A) or 408 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(A), 848) or section 1010(b)(1)(A) of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 960(b)(1)(A)).


(3) Nonqualifying felonies.—

(A) Robbery in certain cases.—Robbery, an attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit robbery; or an offense described in paragraph (2)(F)(ii) shall not serve as a basis for sentencing under this subsection if the defendant establishes by clear and convincing evidence that—

(i) no firearm or other dangerous weapon was used in the offense and no threat of use of a firearm or other dangerous weapon was involved in the offense; and

(ii) the offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365) to any person.


(B) Arson in certain cases.—Arson shall not serve as a basis for sentencing under this subsection if the defendant establishes by clear and convincing evidence that—

(i) the offense posed no threat to human life; and

(ii) the defendant reasonably believed the offense posed no threat to human life.


(4) Information filed by united states attorney.—The provisions of section 411(a) of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 851(a)) shall apply to the imposition of sentence under this subsection.

(5) Rule of construction.—This subsection shall not be construed to preclude imposition of the death penalty.

(6) Special provision for indian country.—No person subject to the criminal jurisdiction of an Indian tribal government shall be subject to this subsection for any offense for which Federal jurisdiction is solely predicated on Indian country (as defined in section 1151) and which occurs within the boundaries of such Indian country unless the governing body of the tribe has elected that this subsection have effect over land and persons subject to the criminal jurisdiction of the tribe.

(7) Resentencing upon overturning of prior conviction.—If the conviction for a serious violent felony or serious drug offense that was a basis for sentencing under this subsection is found, pursuant to any appropriate State or Federal procedure, to be unconstitutional or is vitiated on the explicit basis of innocence, or if the convicted person is pardoned on the explicit basis of innocence, the person serving a sentence imposed under this subsection shall be resentenced to any sentence that was available at the time of the original sentencing.


(d) Death or Imprisonment for Crimes Against Children.—

(1) In general.—Subject to paragraph (2) and notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person who is convicted of a Federal offense that is a serious violent felony (as defined in subsection (c)) or a violation of section 2422, 2423, or 2251 shall, unless the sentence of death is imposed, be sentenced to imprisonment for life, if—

(A) the victim of the offense has not attained the age of 14 years;

(B) the victim dies as a result of the offense; and

(C) the defendant, in the course of the offense, engages in conduct described in section 3591(a)(2).


(2) Exception.—With respect to a person convicted of a Federal offense described in paragraph (1), the court may impose any lesser sentence that is authorized by law to take into account any substantial assistance provided by the defendant in the investigation or prosecution of another person who has committed an offense, in accordance with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the policy statements of the Federal Sentencing Commission pursuant to section 994(p) of title 28, or for other good cause.


(e) Mandatory Life Imprisonment for Repeated Sex Offenses Against Children.—

(1) In general.—A person who is convicted of a Federal sex offense in which a minor is the victim shall be sentenced to life imprisonment if the person has a prior sex conviction in which a minor was the victim, unless the sentence of death is imposed.

(2) Definitions.—For the purposes of this subsection—

(A) the term “Federal sex offense” means an offense under section 1591 (relating to sex trafficking of children), 2241 (relating to aggravated sexual abuse), 2242 (relating to sexual abuse), 2244(a)(1) (relating to abusive sexual contact), 2245 (relating to sexual abuse resulting in death), 2251 (relating to sexual exploitation of children), 2251A (relating to selling or buying of children), 2422(b) (relating to coercion and enticement of a minor into prostitution), or 2423(a) (relating to transportation of minors);

(B) the term “State sex offense” means an offense under State law that is punishable by more than one year in prison and consists of conduct that would be a Federal sex offense if, to the extent or in the manner specified in the applicable provision of this title—

(i) the offense involved interstate or foreign commerce, or the use of the mails; or

(ii) the conduct occurred in any commonwealth, territory, or possession of the United States, within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, in a Federal prison, on any land or building owned by, leased to, or otherwise used by or under the control of the Government of the United States, or in the Indian country (as defined in section 1151);


(C) the term “prior sex conviction” means a conviction for which the sentence was imposed before the conduct occurred constituting the subsequent Federal sex offense, and which was for a Federal sex offense or a State sex offense;

(D) the term “minor” means an individual who has not attained the age of 17 years; and

(E) the term “State” has the meaning given that term in subsection (c)(2).


(3) Nonqualifying Felonies.—An offense described in section 2422(b) or 2423(a) shall not serve as a basis for sentencing under this subsection if the defendant establishes by clear and convincing evidence that—

(A) the sexual act or activity was consensual and not for the purpose of commercial or pecuniary gain;

(B) the sexual act or activity would not be punishable by more than one year in prison under the law of the State in which it occurred; or

(C) no sexual act or activity occurred.


(f) Mandatory Minimum Terms of Imprisonment for Violent Crimes Against Children.—A person who is convicted of a Federal offense that is a crime of violence against the person of an individual who has not attained the age of 18 years shall, unless a greater mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment is otherwise provided by law and regardless of any maximum term of imprisonment otherwise provided for the offense—

(1) if the crime of violence is murder, be imprisoned for life or for any term of years not less than 30, except that such person shall be punished by death or life imprisonment if the circumstances satisfy any of subparagraphs (A) through (D) of section 3591(a)(2) of this title;

(2) if the crime of violence is kidnapping (as defined in section 1201) or maiming (as defined in section 114), be imprisoned for life or any term of years not less than 25; and

(3) if the crime of violence results in serious bodily injury (as defined in section 1365), or if a dangerous weapon was used during and in relation to the crime of violence, be imprisoned for life or for any term of years not less than 10.


(g)(1) If a defendant who is convicted of a felony offense (other than offense of which an element is the false registration of a domain name) knowingly falsely registered a domain name and knowingly used that domain name in the course of that offense, the maximum imprisonment otherwise provided by law for that offense shall be doubled or increased by 7 years, whichever is less.

(2) As used in this section—

(A) the term “falsely registers” means registers in a manner that prevents the effective identification of or contact with the person who registers; and

(B) the term “domain name” has the meaning given that term is 1 section 45 of the Act entitled “An Act to provide for the registration and protection of trademarks used in commerce, to carry out the provisions of certain international conventions, and for other purposes” approved July 5, 1946 (commonly referred to as the “Trademark Act of 1946”) (15 U.S.C. 1127).

(Added Pub. L. 98–473, title II, §212(a)(2), Oct. 12, 1984, 98 Stat. 1991; amended Pub. L. 100–185, §5, Dec. 11, 1987, 101 Stat. 1279; Pub. L. 100–690, title VII, §7041, Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4399; Pub. L. 103–322, title VII, §70001, Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1982; Pub. L. 105–314, title V, §501, Oct. 30, 1998, 112 Stat. 2980; Pub. L. 105–386, §1(b), Nov. 13, 1998, 112 Stat. 3470; Pub. L. 108–21, title I, §106(a), Apr. 30, 2003, 117 Stat. 654; Pub. L. 108–482, title II, §204(a), Dec. 23, 2004, 118 Stat. 3917; Pub. L. 109–248, title II, §§202, 206(c), July 27, 2006, 120 Stat. 612, 614.)

Amendments

2006—Subsec. (e)(2)(A). Pub. L. 109–248, §206(c), inserted “1591 (relating to sex trafficking of children),” after “under section”.

Subsecs. (f), (g). Pub. L. 109–248, §202, added subsec. (f) and redesignated former subsec. (f) as (g).

2004—Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 108–482 added subsec. (f).

2003—Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 108–21 added subsec. (e).

1998—Subsec. (c)(2)(F)(i). Pub. L. 105–386 inserted “firearms possession (as described in section 924(c));” after “firearms use;”.

Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 105–314 added subsec. (d).

1994—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 103–322, §70001(1), substituted “Except as provided in subsection (c), an” for “An”.

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 103–322, §70001(2), added subsec. (c).

1988—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 100–690, §7041(a)(1), substituted “classified if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is—” for “classified—

“(1) if the maximum term of imprisonment authorized is—”.

Subsec. (a)(1) to (9). Pub. L. 100–690, §7041(a)(2), (b), redesignated subpars. (A) to (I) as pars. (1) to (9), respectively, and substituted “twenty-five” for “twenty” in pars. (2) and (3).

1987—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 100–185 substituted “, except that the maximum term of imprisonment is the term authorized by the law describing the offense.” for “except that:

“(1) the maximum fine that may be imposed is the fine authorized by the statute describing the offense, or by this chapter, whichever is the greater; and

“(2) the maximum term of imprisonment is the term authorized by the statute describing the offense.”

Effective Date

Section effective Nov. 1, 1987, and applicable only to offenses committed after the taking effect of this section, see section 235(a)(1) of Pub. L. 98–473, set out as a note under section 3551 of this title.

1 So in original. Probably should be “in”.