Acceptance of Responsibility:
v Genschow United States
Mr. Genschow, Sr. was charged and convicted after a bench trial of destroying trees on the Ontonagon Reservation in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1853, and stealing tribal property for his own use in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1163.
One of the issues on appeal was that Mr. Genschow did not receive acceptance of responsibility. Prior to sentencing a sentencing memorandum was submitted on Mr. Genschow’s behalf. And Mr. Genschow himself wrote an “acceptance letter” to the United States Probation Department. In part, Mr. Genschow wrote:
I, Robert Genschow, do hereby accept responsibility for my actions. It was my decision to undertake to have the land cleared on the Ontonagon Reservation; and I, alone, am responsiblie for any and all consequences. However, these actions were taken by me a Chief of the Ontonagon Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and were being undertaken for what I believed was the benfit of that Ontonagon Band . . . . I am very sorry for the trouble and difficulties I have caused everyone – . . . .”
At sentencing the Federal Court District Judge determined that Mr. Genschow did not possess the requisite acceptance of responsibility per the United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 3E1.1(a).
What is enough to receive acceptance of responsibility per United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 3E1.1(a)?
To receive acceptance of responsibility you must not only admit to what you did, but also, that you intended the action and/or end result.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines 3E1.1(a) provides for a two (2) level reduction to the offense variable total if a Defendant “clearly demonstrates acceptance of responsibility for his/her offense.” U.S.S.G. 3E1.1(a). The Defendant has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he/she merits the reduction.
Factors the Court may consider in deciding whether the Defendant has shown he/she merits the reduction include:
- Whether the defendant truthfully admitted the conduct comprising the offense of conviction; and
- Whether the defendant truthfully admitted, or did not falsely deny any additional relevant conduct for which the defendant is accountable;
- The voluntary termination or withdrawal of the defendant from criminal conduct or associations; and the timeliness of the defendant’s conduct in manifesting the acceptance of responsibility.
U.S.S.G. § 3E1.1. app. note 1(a), (b), and (h).
“Regret alone does not warrant a reduction.” To receive the two (2) point reduction for of acceptance responsibility you must admit your wrongdoing in full at the time you are put on notice that the behavior/action was wrong. This does not normally include the pre-indictment phase; however, but may include the time after arrest, search warrant, post indictment time or the time after a guilty plea is entered.