x
Breaking News
More () »

What criminal charges could prosecutors chase in U.S. Capitol breach?

Federal prosecutors will have many options to charge people involved with the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol building, legal experts say.

WASHINGTON — Investigators are seeking help from the public to identify people who stormed the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday.

The Metropolitan Police Department recorded 69 arrests connected to the Capitol breach and earlier protests, according to the department’s website.

“This is far from done. That’s the first thing to understand,” said Adam Gershowitz, criminal law professor at William & Mary Law School. “I know many people are upset more arrests have not been made, but that will likely come.”

Authorities released photos of persons of interest and is offering a reward up to $1,000 for tips leading to an arrest and indictment.

RELATED: FBI seeks information on those who 'instigated violence' at US Capitol

Ed Booth, personal injury lawyer and former Virginia Beach prosecutor, said charges will range in severity. Property crimes, including damage to the Capitol building, theft, and vandalism are among the lower tier, said Booth. However, rioters assaulted several Capitol Police officers and authorities claim pipe bombs were found in the area.

“Any time you talk about having an explosive device or crimes related to trying to overthrow the government, those are the crimes the prosecutors are looking at,” said Booth.

But there are also talks of rare charges.

In a spirited speech to colleagues, Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) called the events an “insurrection.” An insurrection is a violent revolt against political authority or an established government. Booth said federal prosecutors would have to prove intent, but it is possible, though unlikely, an argument could be made.

“What were the people there to do? What were the lawmakers doing?” Booth asked. “Context always matters, and location matters as well. So, these are all things to think about.”

Gershowitz mentioned the federal crime for seditious conspiracy, as the protests that sparked the attack formed out of calls to overturn the Presidential election.

“It’s for the attempted overthrow of the government or to prevent the execution of a law of the government,” he said. “That is a possibility, but it is harder to prove.”

Gershowitz says though there are many charges people could face, it will take a lot of time and resources to track offenders down.

“There’s only so many prosecutors and so you can probably expect they are going to focus on the more straightforward cases,” he said.