Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Third Circuit holds sentencing court understood its authority to consider acceptance of responsibility under §3553(a)

In United States v. Severino, No 05-3695 (3d Cir. July 11, 2006), the Third Circuit upheld a sentence within the applicable guidelines range against claims that the sentencing court failed to recognize its authority to consider unusual acceptance of responsibility as a valid sentencing factor under 18 U.S.C. §3553(a). In this case, Severino had gone so far as to compose letters to the banks and tellers he had victimized, expressing his remorse and accepting full responsibility for his actions. Though he sought a variance on his extraordinary acceptance of responsibility, the court denied this request, citing the amendments to the guidelines limiting such departures. He was sentenced to 63 months, the bottom of the advisory range. On appeal, the Third Circuit held that the district court properly understood its authority to consider extraordinary acceptance of responsibility, even if it failed to explicitly mention this factor in relation to other § 3553(a) factors, and merely exercised its discretion not to reduce the sentence. Finding that the district court gave meaningful consideration to the § 3553(a) factors, the Court affirmed Severino’s sentence as reasonable under Booker.

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