Federal Acceptance Of Responsibility

Section 3E1.1 Acceptance Of Responsibility

(a) If a defendant clearly demonstrates acceptance of responsibility for his offense, decrease the offense level by 2 levels.

(b) If the defendant qualifies for a decrease under subsection (a), the offense level determined prior to the operation of subsection (a) is level 16 or greater, and upon motion of the government stating that the defendant has assisted authorities in the investigation or prosecution of his own misconduct by timely notifying authorities of his intention to enter a plea of guilty, thereby permitting the government to avoid preparing for trial and permitting the government and the court to allocate their resources efficiently, decrease the offense level by 1 additional level.

Analysis Of Acceptance Of Responsibility

Merely entering a guilty plea does not require the court to grant the acceptance of responsibility reduction. Conduct detrimental or in opposite of acceptance of responsibility up to and during sentencing can be used to deny the reduction. United States v. Sawyer, 180 F.3d 1319 (11th Cir. 1999).

An adjustment for acceptance of responsibility is not warranted when a defendant's conduct results in an enhancement for obstruction of justice. U.S.S.G. Section 3E1.1, Application Note 4; United States v. Arguedas, 86 F.3d 1054 (11th Cir. 1996).

The appropriate starting point for assessing a defendant's acceptance of responsibility is the commencement of federal charges. United States v. Wade, 458 F.3d 1273 (11th Cir. 2006).

Application Note 2 to Section 3E1.1 provides that when a defendant proceeds to trial, only in a rare instance would he receive a reduction pursuant to acceptance of responsibility. Such a rare case includes when a defendant goes to trial only to preserve an issue that does not relate to factual guilt, such as challenging the constitutionality of a statute or the applicability of the statute to his conduct. U.S.S.G. Section 3E1.1 Comment (n.2); United States v. Gonzalez, 70 F.3d 1236 (11th Cir. 1995).

The District Court may refuse to grant the acceptance of responsibility adjustment if the defendant seeks to withdraw his guilty plea. United States v. McCarty, 99 F.3d 383 (11th Cir. 1996).

Drug use on pretrial release may bar an adjustment for acceptance of responsibility — even if the offense of conviction has nothing to do with drugs. United States v. Hromada, 49 F.3d 685 (11th Cir. 1995). Committing additional crimes at the state or federal level while awaiting sentencing justifies denying an acceptance of responsibility reduction.

In order to qualify for the third point reduction, the defendant must assist authorities in the investigation and/or prosecution of his own misconduct by timely notifying authorities of his intention to enter a plea of guilty, thereby permitting the government to avoid preparing for trial and permitting the government and the court to allocate their resources efficiently. United States v. McConaghy, 23 F.3d 351 (11th Cir. 1994); Feeney Amendment to the PROTECT Act, Pub. L. 108-21 Section 401(g).