Why Are Participants in the January 6 Riot Facing Low-Level Charges?

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1519929965.jpgPeople throughout the United States were shocked by the events of January 6, 2021. Protestors who believed that former president Donald Trump had not lost the election in 2020 engaged in violent and destructive behavior as they stormed the U.S. Capitol building. Since those events, many people who participated in the riot have been arrested and charged with crimes. Because the riot involved the destruction of government property, many of the protestors are facing federal criminal charges. However, some have been troubled by what seem to be lenient sentences for people who attempted a violent overthrow of our country’s democratic processes.

Federal Judge Questions Plea Deals in Capital Riot Cases

While more than 100 people have been charged with and convicted of crimes related to actions they took in the January 6 riots, many people have been troubled by what seems to be lenient treatment for these defendants. Recently, U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell questioned whether the way the Department of Justice is pursuing charges in these cases is causing confusion for the American public about the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

During a sentencing hearing, Judge Howell questioned federal prosecutors about the DOJ’s handling of these cases and whether the charges they pursued were appropriate based on the actions that protestors took during the riot. In this case, the DOJ had offered a defendant a plea deal in which they would be charged with “parading, demonstrating, or picketing,” which is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum sentence of six months in prison. Based on these charges, the defendant was sentenced to 14 days in prison and three years of probation. When addressing this case, the judge noted that many defendants who participated in the riots were able to make similar plea bargains that allowed them to receive low-level misdemeanor convictions rather than more serious charges.

The judge questioned prosecutors about whether the DOJ’s decision to allow for these types of plea bargains may be causing confusion among the American public about the events that took place on January 6. She noted that the Republican National Committee has described the events as “legitimate political discourse,” and some may believe that the riot was a protest that got out of control rather than an attack on the country’s democratic institutions. Since prosecutors are not pursuing serious charges in many of these cases, the judge raised concerns that the DOJ’s actions are contributing to confusion about what actually happened. Prosecutors stated that the U.S. government’s position is that much of what happened during the attack on the Capitol was domestic terrorism, and the charges pursued against defendants have been based on policy decisions at the DOJ.

Contact Our Hartford Federal Crimes Lawyer

Most of the time, those who have been charged with federal crimes or other types of offenses do not receive leniency from prosecutors. Defendants often struggle to be treated fairly, and they can face harsh sentences. In these situations, it is important to secure representation from a lawyer who can provide a strong defense against criminal charges and who can help defendants understand their options. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we work to protect the rights of defendants facing charges at the federal or state level. To arrange a free consultation and get the legal help you need in these situations, contact our Connecticut criminal defense attorney at 860-290-8690.

Sources:

https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/2022/02/17/misdemeanor-charge-in-jan-6-cases-is-fostering-confusion-about-severity-of-capitol-riot-judge-says/

https://www.cnn.com/2022/02/17/politics/chief-dc-federal-judge-blasts-gop-legitimate-political-discourse-january-6/index.html

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/zoetillman/january6-doj-trump-rnc-plea-deals


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