Acceptance of Responsibility Law and Legal Definition

Acceptance of responsibility is acceptance of responsibility for a defendant's offense not for illegal conduct generally. It is a convicted federal defendant's acceptance of and a feeling of deep regret for his/her crime. The acceptance of responsibility gives the sentencing judge the discretion under the federal sentencing guidelines to reduce the offense level and so impose a less severe sentence. A defendant can demonstrate significant evidence of acceptance of responsibility if the defendant enters a guilty plea prior to trial and admits, or does not falsely deny, any additional relevant conduct. Securing a reduction for acceptance of responsibility requires more than saying the right words at the right time, because acceptance of responsibility is not simply a matter of incanting the appropriate litany of remorse.

“Pursuant to U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 3E1.1(a), if a defendant clearly demonstrates acceptance of responsibility for his offense, decrease the offense level by 2 levels. Among the eight considerations relevant to the determination of whether the defendant qualifies for the reduction are: truthfully admitting the conduct comprising the offense of conviction, voluntary assistance to authorities in the recovery of the fruits and instrumentalities, and the timeliness of the defendant's conduct in manifesting the acceptance of responsibility. U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual § 3E1.1, cmt., application n. 1(a), (e), (h).”[ United States v. Sanders, 660 F. Supp. 2d 845 (D. Tenn. 2009)].