United States v. Tuan Luong (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Federal Docket

August 21, 2020

Sentencing Guidelines/Acceptance of Responsibility – A defendant can receive the reduction for acceptance of responsibility after making good-faith challenges to a statute’s applicability to his conduct, such as a challenge based on the government’s lack of jurisdiction.

Tuan Luong was convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in his first trial. In a retrial, he was also convicted of robbery under the Hobbs Act and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. He was ultimately sentenced to 144 months’ imprisonment and thirty-six months’ supervised release. Luong appealed, challenging his convictions and sentence.

The Court agreed in part, vacating Luong’s sentence because the district court did not properly take into account Luong’s acceptance of responsibility. The Court held that Luong admitted factual guilt even though he challenged the government’s jurisdiction to prosecute him under the Hobbs Act. The Court noted that a defendant that challenges a statute’s applicability can still demonstrate contrition and “receiv[e] credit for acceptance of responsibility because his attorney made good-faith challenges at trial.”

The Court also held that there was “sufficient evidence” to support Luong’s convictions.

Appeal from the Northern District of California

Opinion by Smith (by designation from D. R.I.), joined by Rawlinson and Bybee

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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