WASHINGTON D.C. – For the past year, words like sedition, treason, and insurrection have been used to describe what happened on Jan. 6, 2021.
Yet, none of the hundreds of people charged in connection with that day have been charged with those specific crimes.
“Those crimes are very, very hard to prove. They require basically an intent to try to frustrate or subvert the government,” said professor of constitutional law at the South Texas College of Law Josh Blackman.
Merriam-Webster defines insurrection as, “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.”
The dictionary also provides an ‘essential meaning’ of, “a usually violent attempt to take control of a government.”
Blackman said while the public can debate whether Jan. 6 meets the definition of an insurrection, the law is much more strict.
He said some of the people involved on Jan. 6 may see insurrection charges, but it will require federal prosecutors to prove they went to the Capitol building with the intent of overthrowing our government.
“I don’t think the government wants to bring a case unless they have a rock-solid argument in favor of insurrection,” said Blackman.
Here is the federal government’s definition:
Blackman said the same goes for sedition and treason. Below are how the federal government defines these crimes:
“A lot of people on Jan. 6 did not have that intent and probably didn’t even realize exactly what they were doing for a host of reasons,” said Blackman.
However, Blackman said he believes those who entered the Capitol that day are criminally liable, regardless of intent.
“If you smashed a window in the Capitol to break through, [it] doesn’t really matter what your intent was, you’re liable for a crime,” he said. “I think it’s safe to assume that if you are walking into the Capitol behind a mob of people, you probably weren’t allowed to be there.”
According to the Department of Justice, 725 people have been charged in connection with Jan 6; more than 225 have been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers; 640 have been charged with entering or remaining in a restricted area; 275 also face charges of obstructing, impeding or influencing an official proceeding.
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