Assaulting, Resisting, or Impeding Federal Police Officers

Federal assault on law enforcement officers is charged under 18 U.S.C. § 111. The code section also covers the actions of resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with police officers if these actions are done with force against the officer.

There are multiple components of this code section.

  1. Misdemeanor simple assault
  2. Felony assault with physical contact
  3. Felony assault with the intent to commit another felony
  4. Felony assault with bodily injury
  5. Felony assault with a dangerous or deadly weapon

Incarceration Penalties for Federal Assault on Law Enforcement Officer Charges

Misdemeanor simple assault under 18 U.S.C. § 111(a) has a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail.

Felony assault with physical contact under 18 U.S.C. § 111(a) has a maximum penalty of 8 years in prison.

Under 18 U.S.C. § 111(a), felony assault, resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with federal officers, when coupled with the intent to commit another felony, has a maximum penalty of 8 years in prison.

Felony assault on a federal officer under 18 U.S.C. § 111(b), which results in bodily injury, has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Felony assault on a federal officer under 18 U.S.C. § 111(b), while using a dangerous or deadly weapon, has a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

 



 

Sentencing Guidelines for Federal Assault Charges

Sentencing guidelines will yield very different penalty ranges for each of the various types of assaults on law enforcement officers, and depending on the circumstances of each case.

Just impeding or obstructing federal officers results in a 6-12 month guidelines range on a first offense. Simple misdemeanor assault on a law enforcement officer will also yield a 6-12 months guidelines sentence range on a first offense.

Assault on a federal police officer with physical contact will yield a 12-18 months guideline sentence range on a first offense.

Felony assault on federal officers while in possession of, and threatening the use of, a deadly or dangerous weapon, will yield a 12-18 months guidelines sentence range on a first offense.

Assault on federal law enforcement officers with the intent to commit another felony will yield a 33-41 month guidelines sentence range on a first offense.

If the police officer sustained injuries, the penalties will be much higher. The penalties will be higher if there was more than minimal planning to commit the assault. There are various other sentencing factors that will play a role in increasing or decreasing the expected guidelines sentencing range.


Enhanced Penalty for Aggravated Assault on Federal Law Enforcement Officers

Aggravated assault on law enforcement officers is charged under 18 U.S.C. § 111(b). Felony assault with resulting bodily injury and felony assault with the use of a dangerous or deadly weapon will raise the offense to an aggravated assault with a higher maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

 


18 USC §111. Assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees


(a) In General.-Whoever-

(1) forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes, intimidates, or interferes with any person designated in section 1114 of this title while engaged in or on account of the performance of official duties; or
(2) forcibly assaults or intimidates any person who formerly served as a person designated in section 1114 on account of the performance of official duties during such person’s term of service,

shall, where the acts in violation of this section constitute only simple assault, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both, and where such acts involve physical contact with the victim of that assault or the intent to commit another felony, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.

(b) Enhanced Penalty.-Whoever, in the commission of any acts described in subsection (a), uses a deadly or dangerous weapon (including a weapon intended to cause death or danger but that fails to do so because of a defective component) or inflicts bodily injury, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

(c) Extraterritorial Jurisdiction.-There is extraterritorial jurisdiction over the conduct prohibited by this section.


Sentencing Guidelines for 18 U.S.C. § 111

§2A2.3 – ASSAULT

(a) Base Offense Level:

(1) 7, if the offense involved physical contact, or if a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) was possessed and its use was threatened; or

(2) 4, otherwise.

(b) Specific Offense Characteristic

(1) If (A) the victim sustained bodily injury, increase by 2 levels; or (B) the offense resulted in substantial bodily injury to a spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner, or an individual under the age of sixteen years, increase by 4 levels.

(c) Cross Reference

(1) If the conduct constituted aggravated assault, apply §2A2.2 (Aggravated Assault).

Commentary

Statutory Provisions: 18 U.S.C. §§ 112, 113(a)(4), (5), (7), 115(a), 115(b)(1), 351(e), 1751(e), 2199, 2291. For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

Application Notes:

1. Definitions.—For purposes of this guideline:

Bodily injury”, “dangerous weapon”, and “firearm” have the meaning given those terms in Application Note 1 of the Commentary to §1B1.1 (Application Instructions).

Spouse,” “intimate partner,” and “dating partner” have the meaning given those terms in 18 U.S.C. § 2266.

Substantial bodily injury” means “bodily injury which involves (A) a temporary but substantial disfigurement; or (B) a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.” See 18 U.S.C. § 113(b)(1).

2. Application of Subsection (b)(1).—Conduct that forms the basis for application of subsection (a)(1) also may form the basis for application of the enhancement in subsection (b)(1)(A) or (B).

Background: This section applies to misdemeanor assault and battery and to any felonious assault not covered by §2A2.2 (Aggravated Assault).

 

§2A2.2 – AGGRAVATED ASSAULT

(a) Base Offense Level: 14

(b) Specific Offense Characteristics

(1) If the assault involved more than minimal planning, increase by 2 levels.

(2) If (A) a firearm was discharged, increase by 5 levels; (B) a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) was otherwise used, increase by 4 levels; (C) a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) was brandished or its use was threatened, increase by 3 levels.

(3) If the victim sustained bodily injury, increase the offense level according to the seriousness of the injury:

Degree of Bodily InjuryIncrease in Level
(A) Bodily Injuryadd 3
(B) Serious Bodily Injuryadd 5
(C) Permanent or Life-Threatening Bodily Injuryadd 7
(D) If the degree of injury is between that specified in subdivisions (A) and (B),add 4 levels; or
(E) If the degree of injury is between that specified in subdivisions (B) and (C),add 6 levels.

However, the cumulative adjustments from application of subdivisions (2) and (3) shall not exceed 10 levels.

(4) If the offense involved strangling, suffocating, or attempting to strangle or suffocate a spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner, increase by 3 levels.

However, the cumulative adjustments from application of subdivisions (2), (3), and (4) shall not exceed 12 levels.

(5) If the assault was motivated by a payment or offer of money or other thing of value, increase by 2 levels.

(6) If the offense involved the violation of a court protection order, increase by 2 levels.

(7) If the defendant was convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 111(b) or § 115, increase by 2 levels.

Commentary

Statutory Provisions: 18 U.S.C. §§ 111, 112, 113(a)(2), (3), (6), (8), 114, 115(a), (b)(1), 351(e), 1751(e), 1841(a)(2)(C), 1992(a)(7), 2199, 2291, 2332b(a)(1), 2340A. For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

Application Notes:

1. Definitions.—For purposes of this guideline:

Aggravated assault” means a felonious assault that involved (A) a dangerous weapon with intent to cause bodily injury (i.e., not merely to frighten) with that weapon; (B) serious bodily injury; (C) strangling, suffocating, or attempting to strangle or suffocate; or (D) an intent to commit another felony.

Brandished,” “bodily injury,” “firearm,” “otherwise used,” “permanent or life-threatening bodily injury,” and “serious bodily injury,” have the meaning given those terms in §1B1.1 (Application Instructions), Application Note 1.

Dangerous weapon” has the meaning given that term in §1B1.1, Application Note 1, and includes any instrument that is not ordinarily used as a weapon (e.g., a car, a chair, or an ice pick) if such an instrument is involved in the offense with the intent to commit bodily injury.

Strangling” and “suffocating” have the meaning given those terms in 18 U.S.C. § 113.

Spouse,” “intimate partner,” and “dating partner” have the meaning given those terms in 18 U.S.C. § 2266.

2. Application of Subsection (b)(1).—For purposes of subsection (b)(1), “more than minimal planning” means more planning than is typical for commission of the offense in a simple form. “More than minimal planning” also exists if significant affirmative steps were taken to conceal the offense, other than conduct to which §3C1.1 (Obstructing or Impeding the Administration of Justice) applies. For example, waiting to commit the offense when no witnesses were present would not alone constitute more than minimal planning. By contrast, luring the victim to a specific location or wearing a ski mask to prevent identification would constitute more than minimal planning.

3. Application of Subsection (b)(2).—In a case involving a dangerous weapon with intent to cause bodily injury, the court shall apply both the base offense level and subsection (b)(2).

4. Application of Official Victim Adjustment.—If subsection (b)(7) applies, §3A1.2 (Official Victim) also shall apply.

Background: This guideline covers felonious assaults that are more serious than other assaults because of the presence of an aggravating factor, i.e., serious bodily injury; the involvement of a dangerous weapon with intent to cause bodily injury; strangling, suffocating, or attempting to strangle or suffocate; or the intent to commit another felony. Such offenses occasionally may involve planning or be committed for hire. Consequently, the structure follows §2A2.1 (Assault with Intent to Commit Murder; Attempted Murder). This guideline also covers attempted manslaughter and assault with intent to commit manslaughter. Assault with intent to commit murder is covered by §2A2.1. Assault with intent to commit rape is covered by §2A3.1 (Criminal Sexual Abuse; Attempt to Commit Criminal Sexual Abuse).

An assault that involves the presence of a dangerous weapon is aggravated in form when the presence of the dangerous weapon is coupled with the intent to cause bodily injury. In such a case, the base offense level and the weapon enhancement in subsection (b)(2) take into account different aspects of the offense, even if application of the base offense level and the weapon enhancement is based on the same conduct.

Subsection (b)(7) implements the directive to the Commission in subsection 11008(e) of the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Act (the “Act”), Public Law 107–273. The enhancement in subsection (b)(7) is cumulative to the adjustment in §3A1.2 (Official Victim) in order to address adequately the directive in section 11008(e)(2)(D) of the Act, which provides that the Commission shall consider “the extent to which sentencing enhancements within the Federal guidelines and the authority of the court to impose a sentence in excess of the applicable guideline range are adequate to ensure punishment at or near the maximum penalty for the most egregious conduct covered by” 18 U.S.C. §§ 111 and 115.

 

§3A1.2 – OFFICIAL VICTIM

(Apply the greatest):

(a) If (1) the victim was (A) a government officer or employee; (B) a former government officer or employee; or (C) a member of the immediate family of a person described in subdivision (A) or (B); and (2) the offense of conviction was motivated by such status, increase by 3 levels.

(b) If subsection (a)(1) and (2) apply, and the applicable Chapter Two guideline is from Chapter Two, Part A (Offenses Against the Person), increase by 6 levels.

(c) If, in a manner creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury, the defendant or a person for whose conduct the defendant is otherwise accountable—

(1) knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that a person was a law enforcement officer, assaulted such officer during the course of the offense or immediate flight therefrom; or

(2) knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that a person was a prison official, assaulted such official while the defendant (or a person for whose conduct the defendant is otherwise accountable) was in the custody or control of a prison or other correctional facility,

increase by 6 levels.

Commentary

Application Notes:

1. Applicability to Certain Victims.—This guideline applies when specified individuals are victims of the offense. This guideline does not apply when the only victim is an organization, agency, or the government.

2. Nonapplicability in Case of Incorporation of Factor in Chapter Two.—Do not apply this adjustment if the offense guideline specifically incorporates this factor. The only offense guideline in Chapter Two that specifically incorporates this factor is §2A2.4 (Obstructing or Impeding Officers).

3. Application of Subsections (a) and (b).—Motivated by such status”, for purposes of subsections (a) and (b), means that the offense of conviction was motivated by the fact that the victim was a government officer or employee, or a member of the immediate family thereof. This adjustment would not apply, for example, where both the defendant and victim were employed by the same government agency and the offense was motivated by a personal dispute. This adjustment also would not apply in the case of a robbery of a postal employee because the offense guideline for robbery contains an enhancement (§2B3.1(b)(1)) that takes such conduct into account.

4. Application of Subsection (c).—

(A) In General.—Subsection (c) applies in circumstances tantamount to aggravated assault (i) against a law enforcement officer, committed in the course of, or in immediate flight following, another offense; or (ii) against a prison official, while the defendant (or a person for whose conduct the defendant is otherwise accountable) was in the custody or control of a prison or other correctional facility. While subsection (c) may apply in connection with a variety of offenses that are not by nature targeted against official victims, its applicability is limited to assaultive conduct against such official victims that is sufficiently serious to create at least a “substantial risk of serious bodily injury”.

(B) Definitions.—For purposes of subsection (c):

Custody or control” includes “non-secure custody”, i.e., custody with no significant physical restraint. For example, a defendant is in the custody or control of a prison or other correctional facility if the defendant (i) is on a work detail outside the security perimeter of the prison or correctional facility; (ii) is physically away from the prison or correctional facility while on a pass or furlough; or (iii) is in custody at a community corrections center, community treatment center, “halfway house”, or similar facility. The defendant also shall be deemed to be in the custody or control of a prison or other correctional facility while the defendant is in the status of having escaped from that prison or correctional facility.

Prison official” means any individual (including a director, officer, employee, independent contractor, or volunteer, but not including an inmate) authorized to act on behalf of a prison or correctional facility. For example, this enhancement would be applicable to any of the following: (i) an individual employed by a prison as a corrections officer; (ii) an individual employed by a prison as a work detail supervisor; and (iii) a nurse who, under contract, provides medical services to prisoners in a prison health facility.

Substantial risk of serious bodily injury” includes any more serious injury that was risked, as well as actual serious bodily injury (or more serious injury) if it occurs.

5. Upward Departure Provision.—If the official victim is an exceptionally high-level official, such as the President or the Vice President of the United States, an upward departure may be warranted due to the potential disruption of the governmental function.

 

§2A2.4 – OBSTRUCTING OR IMPEDING OFFICERS

(a) Base Offense Level: 10

(b) Specific Offense Characteristics

(1) If (A) the offense involved physical contact; or (B) a dangerous weapon (including a firearm) was possessed and its use was threatened, increase by 3 levels.

(2) If the victim sustained bodily injury, increase by 2 levels.

(c) Cross Reference

(1) If the conduct constituted aggravated assault, apply §2A2.2 (Aggravated Assault).

Commentary

Statutory Provisions: 18 U.S.C. §§ 111, 1501, 1502, 2237(a)(1), (a)(2)(A), 3056(d). For additional statutory provision(s), see Appendix A (Statutory Index).

Application Notes:

1. Definitions.—For purposes of this guideline, “bodily injury”, “dangerous weapon”, and “firearm” have the meaning given those terms in Application Note 1 of the Commentary to §1B1.1 (Application Instructions).

2. Application of Certain Chapter Three Adjustments.—The base offense level incorporates the fact that the victim was a governmental officer performing official duties. Therefore, do not apply §3A1.2 (Official Victim) unless, pursuant to subsection (c), the offense level is determined under §2A2.2 (Aggravated Assault). Conversely, the base offense level does not incorporate the possibility that the defendant may create a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person in the course of fleeing from a law enforcement official (although an offense under 18 U.S.C. § 758 for fleeing or evading a law enforcement checkpoint at high speed will often, but not always, involve the creation of that risk). If the defendant creates that risk and no higher guideline adjustment is applicable for the conduct creating the risk, apply §3C1.2 (Reckless Endangerment During Flight).

3. Upward Departure Provision.—The base offense level does not assume any significant disruption of governmental functions. In situations involving such disruption, an upward departure may be warranted. See §5K2.7 (Disruption of Governmental Function).

 

 


 

 

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