“The punishment has to be proportional to the harm, but I think for many of us, we’ll never forget watching TV Jan. 6 and seeing people wilding out in the Capitol,” said Butler, now a law professor at Georgetown. “Everybody who was there was complicit, but they’re not all complicit to the same degree for the same harm.”
A standard set of four misdemeanor charges prosecutors have been filed in dozens of the Capitol cases carries a maximum possible punishment of three years in prison. But that sentence or anything close to it is virtually unheard of in misdemeanor cases, lawyers said.
“Nobody goes to jail for a first or second misdemeanor,” Butler said flatly.
One defense lawyer working on Capitol cases also said what many in the court system are referring to as “MAGA tourists” are almost certain to escape prison time.
“What about somebody who has no criminal record who got jazzed up by the president, walked in, spends 15 minutes in Statuary Hall and leaves? What happens to that person? They’re not going to get a jail sentence for that,” said the defense attorney, who asked not to be named.
“There is a natural cycle to an event like this,” the lawyer added. “People will say it was the end of the world, then things will calm down, and they’ll begin looking at cases back on what people actually did.”
Nearly every day, federal judges are also prodding prosecutors to offer plea deals to defendants facing lower-level charges.
During a hearing Friday for Leo Brent “Zeeker” Bozell IV, son of prominent conservative activist Brent Bozell, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates told a prosecutor to “move expeditiously” to get the case resolved or headed to trial.
The younger Bozell faces a mixture of felony and misdemeanor charges for allegedly forcing his way into the Capitol and, eventually, onto the Senate floor. He pleaded not guilty to all charges Friday.