More than 700 people have been charged by federal prosecutors in connection with the January 6, 2021, breach at the U.S. Capitol, which left five people dead and caused millions of dollars in damages. Some defendants have been accused of extremely serious charges such as seditious conspiracy and assaulting a federal officer, while others are charged with the lesser offense of entering a protected building. Here’s a look at the charges and punishments stemming from the riot and insurrection in Washington, DC.
What happened at the Capitol?
On January 6, 2021, thousands of protesters surrounded the U.S. Capitol to contest Congress’ proceedings to certify the presidential election. Rioters stormed past police barriers and entered the Capitol. Some were armed, some vandalized government property, others were simply present. The Department of Justice is aggressively pursuing individuals who were present on Capitol grounds during the protest.
Who is conducting the investigation?
The FBI is working closely with the United States Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Federal law enforcement officials announced that they are treating the investigation into the riot “like an international counter-terrorism investigation.”
Learn more about the timeline in federal criminal cases.
What charges do the Capitol rioters face?
Many capitol riot charges are ones you might expect — disorderly conduct, trespass, destruction of property, and assault. However, there are also a number of unique, albeit, serious charges, given that the riot took place at the U.S. Capitol, was meant to disrupt official government business, and is being treated as an international counter-terrorism investigation.
Charges that have been filed by the Department of Justice against Capitol rioters include:
- 18 USC 2385 – Seditious Conspiracy
- 18 USC 1752(a)(1) – Knowing Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Ground Without Lawful Authority
- 18 USC 1752(c)(2) – Knowingly Engaging in Disorderly or Disruptive Conduct in any Restricted Building or Ground
- 18 USC 111 – Assaulting a Federal Officer
- 18 USC 231(a)(3) – Obstructing Law Enforcement Engaged in Official Duties Incident to Civil Disorder
- 18 USC 131 – Destruction of Government Property over $1,000
- 40 USC 5104(e)(2) – Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct.
Other charges being filed include:
- Conspiracy to impede or injure an officer
- Theft of public money, property, or records
- Obstructing, influencing, or impeding any official proceeding, or attempting to do so
- Carrying a firearm without a license
- Carrying or having readily accessible to any individual on the grounds or in any of the Capitol Buildings a firearm, a dangerous weapon, explosives, or an incendiary device
- Possession of unregistered ammunition
- Possession of large capacity ammunition feeding device (magazine)
- Knowingly and willfully transmitting in interstate or foreign commerce communications containing threats to injure the person of another.
What are the possible punishments for Capitol rioters?
The punishment ranges vary widely depending on the charge. Not to mention, individuals also face penalties specific to their own circumstances.
Eleven members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group, have been charged with seditious conspiracy, which is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.
One indictment charges a Burleson, Texas, man and another man from Hawaii with six separate violations, including conspiracy, theft of government property, destruction of government property, and obstruction of an official proceeding. If convicted, the men each face a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.
The charge for unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds exemplifies how punishment ranges can vary dramatically. Those charged only with entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority may face up to one year imprisonment and $100,000 fine. However, if the person carried or used a deadly or dangerous weapon while committing the offense, or the offense resulted in significant bodily injury, then the person could face up to 10 years in prison and be fined up to $250,000.
Many of the capitol rioters are being charged with Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds which is defined as “uttering loud, threatening, or abusive language, or engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct, at any place in the Grounds or in any of the Capitol Buildings with the intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session of Congress or either House of Congress, or the orderly conduct in that building of a hearing before, or any deliberations of, a committee of Congress or either House of Congress.”
The maximum punishment for such conduct is six months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. However, any person charged with such conduct while also carrying or having readily available a firearm, dangerous weapon, or explosive will face a maximum punishment of five years imprisonment and $250,000 fine.
Were any Texans charged in connection with the Capitol riots?
At least a dozen Texans have been charged in connection with the Capitol riots, including residents of Granbury, Burleson, Colleyville, Grapevine, Frisco, and Westlake. Among the group from the Metroplex is a real estate agent who is facing charges of entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds. She may also face state licensing disciplinary actions. The leader of the Oath Keepers is from Granbury and has been charged with seditious conspiracy.
Facing Capitol Riot Charges? Contact Us
If your loved one is facing any charges associated with the Capitol riot, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible. The government is taking this investigation very seriously. Our team of attorneys has extensive experience defending federal criminal charges. Call today for a complimentary strategy session with a member of our team.