Ninth Circuit - Chapter 3 Adjustments

United States v. Tuan Ngoc Luong, 965 F.3d 973 (9th Cir. 2020). The court erred when it denied a reduction for acceptance of responsibility adjustment under §3E1.1(a) to a defendant who admitted factual guilt but challenged the interstate commerce element of his Hobbs Act Robbery count. Challenging the government’s evidence regarding jurisdiction is not inconsistent with contrition.

United States v. Herrera, 974 F.3d 1040 (9th Cir. 2020). The court did not abuse its discretion in applying §3B1.1(b)’s 3-level adjustment for aggravating role. The defendant played a significant role in planning and operating a lucrative unemployment-fraud scheme; the defendant trained one participant and provided detailed instructions directing his activities; and three other participants stated that the defendant was their contact within the scheme, filed fraudulent claims for them, controlled their mailboxes, and set up meets to disburse payments.

United States v. Alhaggagi, 978 F.3d 693 (9th Cir. 2020). The court abused its discretion when it applied the terrorism enhancement at §3A1.4 in a case involving attempted support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Clear and convincing evidence did not establish that the defendant’s conduct in opening social media accounts for a terrorist organization was calculated to retaliate against government conduct.

United States v. Dixon, 984 F.3d 814 (9th Cir. 2020). The court erred in denying a 2-level reduction under §3E1.1(a) for acceptance of responsibility where the defendant was convicted at trial of drug possession but acquitted of drug trafficking. A trial conviction does not automatically preclude acceptance, and even before being indicted, the defendant admitted to possessing drugs.

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