West Virginia Law Review

Document Type

Student Note


The abduction enhancement applied to the crime of robbery is inherently ambiguous; the enhancement reads, “‘abducted’ means that a victim was forced to accompany an offender to a different location.” The lack of a clear definition for “location” has caused a split within the federal circuits, with some circuits interpreting “location” as position and others interpreting “location” as place. This has caused disproportionate sentences for similar criminal conduct within separate circuits, creating the need for a more uniform interpretation of the sentencing enhancement for abduction.

This Note builds upon the work of David J. Sandefer and proposes two additional factors to consider during sentencing. A clarified definition of abduction alone will not alleviate the confusion that has arisen when courts attempt to interpret this section of the Guidelines. By focusing on a static definition of location, a reviewing court would improperly focus on characteristics of the building robbed rather than the defendant’s underlying conduct.

To propose a solution, this Note presents several factors that courts should use in assessing the applicability of the abduction enhancement. This test seeks to balance all relevant factors implicated by a defendant’s conduct by considering the dangerousness presented to victims by relocation, the amount of distance traveled, the dimensions of the structure robbed, and the intent of the defendant in forcing relocation. This new test allows for a more robust system of initial application and review of the abduction enhancement, presenting both district and circuit courts a more definitive criteria for assessing the applicability of the abduction enhancement.

Included in

Criminal Law Commons



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