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There’s No Single Domestic Terrorism Statute

TIME – But Those Involved in the Riot at the Capitol May Still Be Prosecuted Under These Laws – “The FBI defines domestic terrorism as “Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” Its leadership concedes that most of the concern centers on white supremacist groups. We saw that Wednesday as rioters charged the Capitol building with Confederate flags and Nazi paraphernalia on full display. Still, even though the FBI tracks domestic terrorism, there isn’t one law that makes it a crime. But there are plenty of statutes federal prosecutors can use in the fight against it. In the absence of specific statutes, like the ones written to combat foreign terrorism, the entire criminal code becomes part of the prosecutor’s playbook. So what laws might we expect to see prosecutors use after Wednesday? As federal law enforcement assesses the intelligence failures that left Congress unprotected and tries to sort out the myriad crimes captured on videotape, the challenge will be developing a prosecution strategy that serves to uncover the truth about what happened and that holds those responsible accountable. There will likely be simultaneous investigation into different groupings of criminal conduct.

First, there should be a much-needed hard look at whether there are people who should be held responsible–in the criminal sense, not the political sense, for the need for the latter seems quite obvious–for Wednesday’s events as organizers and leaders of the insurrection. There will also be people who committed serious standalone offense that involved violence and risks to public safety. And there will be a group, likely the largest number of people, who overran the Capitol and need to be held accountable, albeit at a lower level, for their acts. Each federal statute has a series of elements that the government must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt before anyone can be adjudged guilty of a crime, and it’s important that we hew to the principle of innocence until proven guilty, even and perhaps especially in the face of this week’s events. Here are some of the statutes federal prosecutors will undoubtedly use in their consideration of whom to prosecute…”

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