MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) — Just one day after an unprecedented attack at our nation’s capital by rioters and intimidators, and legal consequences are quickly rolling in.
Washington D.C. law enforcement agencies have already arrested more than 90 people in connection to the breach of the Capitol building and the surrounding confusion. Right now, no records show that any of those arrested are from Ohio.
However, U.S. Attorney for Ohio’s Southern District, David DeVillers, announced that he and the Cincinnati division of the FBI are working together to find and prosecute any people from the area who participated in the mob.
Federal statutes Devillers’ office say are being investigated include Civil Disobedience, Federal Riot Act, and Rebellion and Insurrection. These carry prison sentence maximums between 5 and 10 years.
University of Dayton law professor, Thaddeus Hoffmeister, says those who drove to be a part of the rally should only be concerned with facing legal action if they committed crimes while away from their home state.
“You should always be worried anytime you commit a crime. If you get involved and you destroyed property, you committed a crime. If you loot, you committed a crime. If you assault someone, you committed a crime,” said Hoffmeister.
He also stated that this moment in history is so unprecedented that even he has not seen these charges prosecuted in his own professional career. But that doesn’t mean new precedents won’t be set.
“We’ve not seen this, fortunately, ever before. So we’ll be cutting new ground with respect to prosecuting people for their actions in Washington D.C.,” he said. “People were really bothered by what they saw yesterday, and [they] want something to happen. So [they’re] looking to hold people accountable for their conduct.”
Right now, those arrested in D.C. are facing charges of unlawful entry, assaulting a police officer, and receiving stolen property just to name a few.
For Devillers’ office and investigators in Ohio, they’ll be looking closely to find if there were any ties to the Buckeye state and the riots in Washington.
“What [they’re] going to do is scour their social media, talk to their friends, call them in, and ask them questions to see ‘Hey was it your intent to commit this crime?'”
But Hoffmeister says he’s not sure if it will be easy to convict any of the people involved for charges like insurrection or rebellion.
“That’s going to be difficult to prove, I think,” he said. “Were they really trying to insurrect [or] overthrow the government? Were they really trying to do that and how do you prove they were going to do that?
Law enforcement officials are asking you to share any information you may know to help in their investigation.