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14: Power Plea

I had been charged with four "petty" misdemeanors. None of these misdemeanors has a tradition of being prosecuted, according to attorneys with knowledge of the matter.

Approximately 20% of people arrested for Jan 6 had the same four mix (or very close):





Each charge has a maximum of 6 months of incarceration as a sentence (and other items, like fines, probation, etc.). So, with these four, a Jan 6 protester could be looking at 24 months in prison.

The Department of Justice offered me a plea deal in early summer, 2021. When this happens, the defendant agrees to the items in the "Statement of Offense", and accepts a reduction in charges. In most of these cases for Jan 6, the first three charges are removed, and the "Parading" charge is the one that remains. A plea deal does not have a sentence applied. That is separate, and is up to the judge. At a later date.

Before I discuss what happened with me, I'd like to touch on the potential motives and incentives involved in this process. Prosecutors are motivated to get convictions, and move cases through pleas, since they are much much less resource intensive than a trial. Especially when there are 800+ cases to push through. There may be a political motive as well: get the defendants to agree to many items, including opinions, that will show the defendant in a negative light, and as guilty on all charges as possible. This also makes it difficult for defendants post-sentencing. It can impact the ability to find work, repair a reputation, and heal relationships. It is nasty. It is all legal. It's meant to be part of the punishment.

The defendant, of course, is motivated to minimize potential ramifications, including sentencing, costs, time, and publicity. Knowing that the Department of Justice has unlimited resources, time, and power, a defendant who "just wants to get on with it" will often agree to a plea.

It's important to note that once a defendant signs a plea agreement and Statement of Offense, the defendant is stating that the facts, are, actually, true. It is a felony to sign a Statement of Offense that the defendant thinks is not true. Several Jan 6 protesters have come under additional scrutiny by their comments after their sentencing, whether in interviews, or social media, trying to negate items in the Statement of Offense .

My plea agreement included many items related to January 6 that are generic and not related to me as an individual. This includes items like "doors were locked", "windows were broken to gain entry", and "$1.4 million in damage". I did not personally see those things. I did not see a broken window, nor a locked door. So I am agreeing to things I did not personally witness. Did those things happen? Well, I saw coverage of broken windows, sure. I saw news videos of locked doors, but I also saw them being unlocked on video so they could be opened. Did I see a locked door myself, that was damaged? No. What I saw was an actual, wide-open door.

Am I violating my agreement to the Statement of Offense? Not in the least. It seems like those things happened. They had zero to do with me, what I saw, and the charges against me. There are 11 numbered paragraphs in my Statement of Offense. 7 of these paragraphs do not pertain to my personal actions. They make for a nice narrative, however.

There is one paragraph where it mentions that the officers had told us all to leave the area we were in. I had not seen any footage from the prosecution to that affect. I'm actually not sure where they got that information. It could have been in the police report from that night, but I wasn't provided any evidence. As I mentioned in a past post, I was not directly in front of officers. I am rather short, and wear hearing aids, according to my audiologist, because of too much rock and roll when I was younger. So, is it possible that they said everyone should leave? Sure. Was I in a position to hear it? No. It seems reasonable to me that they said that, though, regardless of whether I personally heard them.

The paragraph continues to say that a melee ensued. I had no video or proof of my allegation that it was an instigator that sprayed something into the face of the police that made them charge us. I know it in my head, my heart, and my gut. But the truth is, there was a melee. I was very shaken at the whole thing.

My main point here is that these statements are not meant for nuance. They are not meant to be a complete story. Since there is no trial, the defendant is limited in the ability to "make a case". There is no formal "discovery" where other witnesses could recall what actually happened in more detail, or from a different angle, for example. That's part of the pain of a plea deal. It is necessarily one-sided. I just wanted to say "but, but, but...". If I wanted to say my peace in an impactful way (in defense of myself), the trial is the way to go.

So, a plea deal is a swift execution of a case by the prosecutors, an admission of facts that may not pertain to the individual but create a narrative, and a sucker punch to the defendant. It is also a reduced set of charges, and a reduced prison sentence.

Plea deals have become a major part of how our judicial system works. The power rests completely with the Department of Justice. They control the charges. They define the Statement of Offense, including the broad narrative, as well as the personal narrative.

It is very effective. As of today (August 5, 2022), there are 10 Jan 6 protesters that are going to trial, and 196 who have accepted plea deals. 95% plea deals. An additional consideration is the venue. Washington, DC voted 92% for Biden (according to CNN). Any trial in the DC district will convict any Jan 6 protester. As a reference, all DC trials to date have resulted in 100% convictions on all charges, in a matter of a few hours. This is not a jury of peers. This is a jury of partisans.

I would have loved to have gone to trial. I would have exposed what happened to me, what I saw, with my own video. I would have tried to find others who saw the same infiltrator. I would have looked at the comparison of sentencing between 2016 protesters and 2020 protesters. I would have made a distinction between the letter of the law, which is applied to Jan 6 protesters, and the application of the law, as applied to Antifa and BLM, which shows wide latitude when it comes to political discourse, actions, and consequences.

And that, my friends, is why the plea system is what it is. So, on a very hot Chicago summer day, I signed my plea deal. I state that everything in there I will assume is accurate. I will also state it misses many other items that are also accurate.


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