Second Circuit Criminal Law Blog

Circuit Offers Assessment of Special Assessment Issue

In United States v. Haverkamp, the Second Circuit (Sack, Parker, Chin) wrote a short decision that answered a single question:  in a case in which a defendant is sentenced to pay an additional special assessment pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3014, is this amount imposed on a per-count or per-offender basis.  Ordinarily, under 18 U.S.C. § 3013,  a special assessment is imposed on a per-count basis (plead guilty to 10 counts, pay 10 special assessments). 

Section 3014 provides that “the court shall assess an amount of $5,000 on any non-indigent person or entity convicted” of offenses involving, inter alia, sex trafficking, sex abuse, and child sex abuse cases.  Employing a plain language approach, the Court held that this language was different from the language in § 3013 and created a per-offender, not per-count assessment.  Here, the defendant should therefore have been sentenced to pay $5,000 and not the $10,000 imposed by the district court.  This creates a split with the Third Circuit, which recently held that that the additional special assessment is to be applied on a per-count basis. 

The Court vacated the sentence in part, and remanded only to correct this plain error in calculation of the additional special assessment, leaving the remainder of the sentence intact.  The Court rejected the other arguments raised by the defendant—substantive reasonableness and the propriety of a single condition of supervised release relating to computer use.

By Jacob Tuttle Newman and Harry Sandick