Since January 6, 2021, you may have heard a lot of news about charges stemming from those events. It’s hitting close to home here in Texas, where one family is getting charged for their alleged involvement.
Recently, five members of one Texas family became the latest of the more than-530 arrests madessince the January 6 riot at the Capitol building. This family amounts to the largest number from one family to be charged so far.
The family is accused of traveling to Washington D.C. to participate in the riot and entering the Capitol building. They are being charged with federal disorderly conduct and federal trespassing.
What kind of penalties may be in store for this family and the scores of other people who breached the Capitol that day?
Federal buildings and offices are managed by the General Services Administration. That office’s responsibility is to protect the property under its control.
Federal trespassing charges are misdemeanors. These types of charges stem from the act of entering a property or building that is under federal jurisdiction and:
- You were not given permission to come in the building or onto the property
- You were told to leave and you chose to remain in the building or on the property
- The property or building was fenced off with no trespassing signs visible
More often than not these charges are not serious. Often, you will not receive more than 30 days in jail and a fine of about $50.
Defenses To Federal No Trespassing Charges
Two strategies are often used to defend against trespassing charges, even in federal cases.
The first is to create reasonable doubt that you were actually on the property or in the building in question. If you can demonstrate that the property was open to the public, or you were given permission to enter, that may be enough reasonable doubt if it applies to your particular case.
Another strategy is to argue that the trespass did occur but is justifiable. If you needed to trespass on the property out of necessity due to an emergency, then this is a solid defense.
Remember that federal charges of any kind, including misdemeanors, are best handled by an experienced attorney.
Federal Disorderly Conduct Charges
Disorderly conduct charges exist in order to help communities stay calm, safe, and peaceful. Most state and local governments have disorderly conduct laws to ensure that, and so does the federal government.
When someone engages in conduct that causes a disturbance or leads to events that break the peace, then they can be prosecuted for disorderly conduct. The types of behavior most often charged in these cases stem from:
- Police encounters
- Disturbing an assembly
- Public misconduct
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
Under federal law, the maximum penalty associated with disorderly conduct is a $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail. The judge in the case must consider several different factors when considering the penalties, including the seriousness of the offense, the nature of the offense, and the circumstances surrounding it.