An Illinois couple decided to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally in DC on January 6th. The couple, along with thousands of other supporters of former President Donald Trump, had gathered in Washington DC to protest. The Western Illinois couple is among a handful of other Illinois residents facing federal criminal charges. Some of the protesters broke past barriers and stormed the Capitol building during the protest.
Some rioters stole property while others posed for photographs in the building. This couple has been charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. According to federal law enforcement authorities, the husband's social media accounts included references to QAnon, a conspiracy theory group.
Over 100 people have been charged in federal court in the District of Columbia in connection with the Capitol riot. One rioter has been charged with taking house Speaker Nancy Pelosi's laptop from her office. The criminal complaint against her states that she had the intent to sell it to Russian intelligence.
Defending Against Criminal Charges Related to the Capitol Riot
The Department of Justice provided a list outlining the specific charges faced by rioters. Some defendants have been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful entry. Other defendants are facing charges of assaulting a federal officer. These charges are serious, and some of them carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. The Department of Justice has stated that they may file even more serious charges against additional defendants in the future.
Federal prosecutors have significant amounts of photographic evidence and video footage of the people who entered the Capitol building. Prosecutors are using this evidence to build cases against descendants for civil disorder and entering a restricted building. Some defense lawyers are beginning to build a defense strategy around President Trump's remark at his rally before the riot occurred. President Trump urged his loyal followers to “fight like hell” to overturn the 2020 election results, claiming the election was stolen from him.
The capital riot itself occurred when Congress was busy counting the Electoral College votes for the presidential election. One defense attorney contends that his client listened to President Trump’s direction to “fight like hell.” The former President later denounced the riot, stating that “mob violence goes against everything I believe in.” The House of Representatives impeached him on January 13th over his alleged role in the Capitol riot.
Another defense attorney has pointed out that his client felt as if he was invited to come into the capital by the president himself, asking, “Am I trespassing when the highest power in the country invited me down to come on down to the Capitol?” Several defense lawyers intend to make a “public authority” defense, claiming that their clients believed they were acting according to President Trump’s directives.
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