June 17, 2019

Tenth Circuit: Sentence Enhancement Affirmed in Bomb Threat Case

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals published its opinion in United States v. Anwar on Monday, December 23, 2013.

Daud Anwar was an engineering student at New Mexico State University (“NMSU”). Seeking to avoid sitting for an important test, Mr. Anwar sent two emails and made four phone calls in which he falsely threatened to detonate explosives at various NMSU campus locations. Anwar pled guilty to making false threats to destroy buildings in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 844(e). The district court sentenced him to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Anwar appealed only the four-level sentence enhancement he received under the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“U.S.S.G” or “Guidelines”) for causing a “substantial disruption” to public “functions or services.” U.S.S.G. § 2A6.1(b)(4)(A). Applying the “substantial disruption” provision was a matter of first impression for the Tenth Circuit. The court decided the correct analysis was to consider objectively quantifiable effects, including the scope and time of the disruption at issue.

The uncontested facts in this case were sufficient to show substantial disruption. Anwar’s false threat to detonate a bomb shut down an entire building, caused the evacuation of 240 people and the interruption of 14 classes. The threat diverted various NMSU employees and police officers from their regular duties. Six police officers and six NMSU firefighters swept the building for explosives before anyone could reenter the building. Campus authorities spent the next two days investigating before identifying Anwar as the suspect.

The court affirmed the sentence enhancement.

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