Sunday, May 22, 2011

Acceptance of Responsibility

Acceptance of Responsibility:  United States v Genschow
                                                No. 09-1946

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.

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