Before the events of January 6, 2021, took place, most people had never heard of the crime of seditious conspiracy. Now, it seems to be everywhere, and people implicated in the events of January 6th are facing this charge.
In fact, a federal grand jury recently returned indictments for the leader of the far-right group the Oath Keepers and other individuals for seditious conspiracy related to the January 6th events. The work of the January 6th Committee seems to be adding to the speculation of others being charged with the same.
It’s vital for all Americans to understand what seditious conspiracy is and why it is charged, especially in the current climate. It’s such a rare charge that it’s certainly something to notice. Having a deeper understanding of what it is can help you to understand events taking place on the news, as well.
Read on to find out more about seditious conspiracy and what it means for those who are charged with it.
Seditious Conspiracy: What Is It?
Seditious conspiracy, just as with any conspiracy crime, occurs when two or more individuals conspire to put down, destroy by force, or overthrow the government of the United States of America. The following are considered seditious conspiracy:
- Levying war against the government
- Opposing by force the authority of the government
- Trying to prevent, delay, or hinder a law
- Taking, seizing, or possessing federal property
This type of crime is one that is reserved for crimes that threaten the stability of the republic.
What is the Penalty for Seditious Conspiracy?
Seditious conspiracy has a maximum penalty under federal law of 20 years in prison. While that may be a lot less than other federal crimes, this particular crime is incredibly serious, even though it is rarely one that is prosecuted.
Labeling an act taken as “seditious conspiracy” suggests that what they did was contrary to the heart of American democracy. It’s in the same league as other very serious political crimes such as treason, rebellion, and insurrection.
A conviction for seditious conspiracy may not send someone to prison for a long time, but it does provide recognition of the seriousness of the act – in this case, the events of January 6th as an attack on American democracy.
Up until now, seditious conspiracy was a charge that was rarely brought, because it’s difficult to prove. The last time prosecutors brought this type of federal charge against a militia group in 2010, charges were ultimately dismissed by a judge for insufficient evidence.
What Are The Charges?
Seditious conspiracy is not a crime that is commonly charged. However, in the wake of January 6th, several people, including two men from North Texas, have been charged with it for the role they played in the breach of the U.S. Capitol building. However, it doesn’t stop with seditious conspiracy.
It’s important to note that the defendants who have been charged with seditious conspiracy also face other charges, such as:
- Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding
- Conspiracy to prevent congress from executing its official duties
The efforts of the people charged were meant to disrupt the electoral vote count. Nine of them were also charged with document tampering for destroying evidence related to their involvement with the events of January 6th.
Five more were also charged with willfully injuring federal property, and two were charged with civil disorder. One was also charged with interfering and assaulting a D.C Metro police officer.
What Are They Alleged to Have Done?
In this case, the charges brought against the Oath Keepers allege that after the November 2020 presidential election, the group began to conspire about how they could overturn the results of the election. They then laid the groundwork for the siege on the Capitol by buying weapons and creating battle plans. The FBI has evidence of encrypted communications between the group members of the planning.
Then, on January 6th, they went along with the large crowds to the Capitol building, where two teams then entered the Capitol, to confront officers and go after members of Congress and the Senate. Their aim was to stop the lawful transfer of power by force.
Seditious conspiracy charges and others like it are very serious matters, but everyone deserves the opportunity to defend themselves against charges by the government. That’s why, if you or anyone you know is ever charged with something this serious, they need to contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney will advise them of their rights and to help explain the charges against them.