(TargetLiberty.org) – On Friday a federal court determined that U.S. officials are allowed to use a felony charge of obstruction of an official proceeding against rioters who participated in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol.
A U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decided in a 2-1 ruling that prosecutors have the board authority to bring these felony charges against the defendants. Felony convictions can lead to up to 20 years in prison, whereas trespassing or illegally demonstrating in the Capitol are misdemeanor convictions that have a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
The statute in question states that those who “corruptly” choose to change, destroy, or hide a document or other object with the intention of blocking the ability of a proceeding to be completed, or those who “otherwise” try to obstruct an official proceeding are guilty of having violated federal law. As a result, they can be charged, fined, and even imprisoned.
This latest decision is likely going to have a big effect on many of those who had participated in the Jan. 6 attack. Specifically the word “otherwise” is the cause of the debate as previously one district judge, Carl Nichols, had interpreted it to only mean tampering with documents. If that is the definition of the word then the rioters would not be able to be charged with felony charges.
The Justice Department appealed this interpretation. Judge Florence Pan, who wrote the majority opinion, following the appeal stated that Nichols had been the only one to interpret the statute in this way.
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