Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

Second Circuit Holds that Only One JVTA Assessment is Permitted even where there are Multiple Counts of Conviction

The defendant in US v. Haverkamp, 18-3735, pleaded guilty to one count of distribution and receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He was sentenced to 121 months in prison. In addition, the district court imposed the $100 mandatory special assessment under 18 USC § 3013 on each count. The court also imposed the $5000 assessment under 18 USC § 3014 on each count. The latter assessment, applicable only to certain offenses, was added to the law in 2015 by the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, and is commonly known as the JVTA assessment.

On appeal, in an opinion by Judge Parker, joined by Judges Sack and Chin, the Second Circuit held that only one JVTA assessment is permitted for any defendant even if there are multiple eligible counts of conviction. The Court relied principally on the language of § 3014, which instructs the sentencing court to “assess an amount of $5,000 on any non-indigent person or entity convicted of an [eligible] offense.” The Court found this language clearly meant that the assessment should be applied “on a per offender, not a per count, basis.”

Haverkamp creates a split with the Third Circuit, which applied the JVTA assessment on a per count basis in US v. Johnson, 948 F.3d 612 (3d Cir. 2020).

Congratulations to Assistant Federal Defender Yuanchung Lee!

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