United States v. Newman

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 10-28-2011
  • Case #: 10-10430
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Graber for the Court; Circuit Judges Kozinski, Chief Judge, and O'Scannlain
  • Full Text Opinion

Under 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c), where the government proves the elements required for a judgment of criminal forfeiture, the district court must enter a judgment for criminal forfeiture in the amount of the proceeds of the crime; the district court does not have discretion to reduce or eliminate the judgment.

This joint opinion was issued in response to two similar cases where the criminal “defendants pleaded guilty and agreed to forfeit a specific amount of money.” In each case the district court either eliminated the criminal forfeiture or reduced it to a trivial amount because the defendants were also subject to pay restitution damages to victims. The government appealed. The Ninth Circuit noted that both 18 U.S.C. § 982(a)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 2461(c) “require that the district court ‘shall order’ forfeiture” when the required elements are proved by the government. The Court also noted that “where the proceeds of the criminal activity are money, the government may seek a money judgment as a form of criminal forfeiture.” Finally, the court stated that the applicable “statutory provisions permit[ted] forfeiture of all property obtained, directly or indirectly, from the commission of the crime.” The Ninth Circuit held that “the district court erred in failing to enter an order of criminal forfeiture in” the amount of the proceeds from each crime. VACATED and REMANDED.

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