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Legal Insider: Consequences for Capitol Hill Rioters

This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

We represent many employees in the workplace and individuals in administrative and civil forums. The unthinkable Capitol riot that took place on January 6, 2021, will lead to many serious consequences for the individuals who took part. While the full extent of what happened is still being investigated, there will be many consequences for those identified as being involved in the illegal riot in the Capitol.

These may include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Loss of Employment

Whether or not the individual involved is convicted, charged or just identified as being involved in the illegal activities in the Capitol on January 6, 2021, they can be fired from their employment. Private and public sector employees can be easily fired for their participation in the Capitol riots. There is no First Amendment protection for their actions.

2. Loss of Security Clearance

Aside from the issue of termination from employment, an individual that was involved and identified as being part of the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, almost certainly will face the potential loss of their security clearance or a future inability to hold one. Whether the issue is criminal or just misconduct, individuals that hold or plan to hold a security clearance will likely have significant issues.

3. Criminal Charges

A number of the Capitol rioters have already been charged criminally for their actions on January 6, 2021. There is reason to suspect this list will grow significantly in the weeks to come as the FBI continues their work.

Depending on whether the individual is charged with (1) knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without law authority; (2) theft; (3) vandalism; (4) disorderly conduct; (5) violence (the murder of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick) (or assault on a federal law enforcement officer or a member of Congress); or (6) seditious conspiracy, there are major criminal penalties that await many of the rioters.

This is just a sample of the potential criminal charges that could be filed by prosecutors against Capitol rioters.

4. Placement on the No Fly List

Another consequence that individuals participating in the Capitol riot likely did not consider is that some appear to now being placed on the “No Fly List.” The No Fly List is a list created and maintained by the United States Terrorist Screening Center (TSC) of individuals who are prohibited from boarding commercial aircraft for travel within, into or out of the United States.

Already it looks as if some individuals have had difficulties returning home from Washington, D.C. after their participation in the Capitol riot. It can be extremely difficult to ever be taken off this list after being placed on it.

5. Lawsuits

For those Capitol rioters who engaged in violence or other actions that hurt others, they are likely to face civil lawsuits when they are identified. Insurers will be unlikely to defend them so rioters will face significant legal and liability costs. Others who did not participate in violence towards others but were present may also be called as witnesses and be dragged into multi-year litigation.

Conclusion

This is just an interim list of consequences for Capitol rioters as there are a number of other potential consequences they may face in the days and months to come as a result of their actions.

The Capitol riot was a horrific event that caused at least two police officers to tragically lose their lives, more than 50 other police officers to be injured, in addition to a number of rioters who lost their own lives. Those who participated in the Capitol riot are going to face a number of legal consequences as a result of their actions.

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