Seditious Conspiracy (also known as 18 U.S. Code § 2384) is a federal crime that encompasses illegal activity related to conspiring to carry out an obstruction or overthrow of the federal government.
The use of this specific legal code related to seditious conspiracy has been scarce in modern times— with the most recent charges being raised in 1995 as a result of a terrorist plot in New York City and more recently in 2010 against a militia group based in Michigan. These charges are generally brought forth when it has been demonstrated that persons or groups pose a serious threat to the government of the United States.
Plotting to interfere with the ability of the U.S. government to carry out the laws and systems in place is a serious offense. A guilty charge for seditious conspiracy can lead to prison time of up to 20 years.
Seditious and treason are slightly different, even though they may have the same intended result of interfering with the function of the federal government. Sedition is more specifically related to activities, speech, and organizing that is for the purposes of bringing down a government. This is generally within the realm of domestic activities, for example, a militia group located within the continental United States wanting to overthrow the federal government. Treason, on the other hand, involves the distribution of sensitive information about the United States government that would help a foreign power take down the U.S. government.
The crime of seditious conspiracy has been in the headlines once again in relation to charges brought against participants in the January 6th riots that resulted in the physical damage to the Capitol building and the eventual death of five Capitol Police Officers.
During this riot, participants forced their way into the Capitol with the purpose of interrupting the procedures that would formally adopt the results of the 2020 election that had taken place in the previous November. According to documents from the Justice Department, it is said that the group called the Oath Keepers purposefully attempted to interfere with the lawful transfer of power. They organized and coordinated various groups who were in possession of firearms and other dangerous weapons.
Additional documents describe how the defendants, who have thus far been charged in these cases, supported recruitment efforts, provided training, and supplied paramilitary weapons and paraphernalia, including knives, radios, and batons to the people in attendance on that day in Washington.
The first arrests and charges made against the participants in the January 6 riot include the leader of the far-right group called the Oath Keepers, as well as nearly a dozen other individuals who have been charged under 18 U.S. Code § 2384. This is specifically for the disruption of electoral procedures and for endangering Mike Pence, the outgoing Vice President of the United States.
While charges are still being brought forth on individuals that participated in person, it is also possible that others who had helped in the planning stages could be charged with seditious conspiracy. Anyone who had partaken in the planning, funding, or organizing of the groups involved in the Capitol Hill riots are possible targets.
As the investigation is still ongoing, it is very possible and likely that more people will be identified for their involvement in this event. Law enforcement continues to use every avenue possible, including social media and reviewing all security video and footage available that day to pinpoint and identify the people in attendance that day. They have had the help of tips from neighbors and community members that recognized the people in the footage as well. This is a continuing process that could catch up with people who had thought they had remained anonymous in the crowd.
If you were at the Capitol that day and have yet to be contacted about the events, you can’t necessarily assume that you have gone under the radar and will not be found. If you have an affiliation with the groups that were there, it is possible you could be swept up in the investigation. Being informed about what you could be in for and knowing what to do if you are contacted about your involvement in this or any other group is extremely important. You should speak with an attorney who can provide the right defense and understands your circumstances should you find yourself the target of seditious conspiracy charges.
Crimes prosecuted under 18 U.S. Code § 2384 should not be taken lightly. If you had been present for or have a connection to the organizations that coordinated the attack on the Capitol building, you will want the advice of a top rated federal lawyer. A skilled advocate will be able to help you avoid harsh punishments and ensure you get the best outcome for your case. Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel Perlman has successfully represented clients in highly complex cases. To speak to him about your circumstance and to obtain a free consultation, please call our offices at 1 (888) 901 2111.