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Two North Texas men are among those who have been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with last year’s assault on the U.S. Capitol. Until recently, many people had never even heard of sedition charges. In this article, we will explain the offense and how the government is using this obscure law to prosecute a far-right militia group for their alleged involvement in the invasion of the U.S. Capitol.

What is seditious conspiracy?

Seditious conspiracy is a federal offense defined in 18 U.S.C. § 2384. It occurs when two or more people conspire to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force” the U.S. government, or to levy war against it, or to oppose by force and try to prevent, hinder or delay the execution of any law.

What is the punishment for seditious conspiracy?

Seditious conspiracy is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.

How many people have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the breach of the U.S. Capitol?

Eleven members of the so-called “Oath Keepers” have been charged with seditious conspiracy related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. Two of the men are from North Texas, including the leader of the group who lives in Granbury. The rest of the defendants are from various parts of the country, including Virginia, Florida, Georgia, and Ohio. The Oath Keepers have been described by local Texas media as a “revolution-minded, conspiracy-bent militia group.

What are the allegations?

The federal indictment alleges that, following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, the Oath Keepers began conspiring how to overturn the election results and prepared for a siege by purchasing weapons and setting up battle plans.The FBI obtained encrypted communications among the Oath Keepers, including a message on Nov. 5 by the leader that read: “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit.” He also allegedly wrote in one text “to scare the s—out of” Congress. 

On Jan. 6, the indictment alleges, they entered the Capitol building with the large crowds of rioters who stormed past police barriers, smashed windows and rammed doors, injuring dozens of officers and sending lawmakers scrambling.

The indictment against the leader alleges the Oath Keepers formed two teams, or “stacks,” that entered the Capitol. The first stack split up inside the building to go after the House and Senate. The second stack confronted officers inside the Capitol Rotunda, the indictment said. Outside Washington, the indictment alleges, the Oath Keepers had stationed two “quick reaction forces” that had guns “in support of their plot to stop the lawful transfer of power.” Interestingly, the leader did not enter the Capitol that day but is accused of putting the violent plan into motion.

How often is seditious conspiracy charged? 

Seditious conspiracy charges are rare and hard to prove. According to news reports, the last time prosecutors brought sedition charges was in 2010 against members of the “Hutaree” – a small far-right Christian militia group in Michigan. The group was allegedly plotting to incite an uprising against the government. However, a judge dismissed the charges after finding there was insufficient evidence of a conspiracy.

What happens next in the case?

On March 2, one of the 11 defendants pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy, admitting he tried to keep President Biden from taking office and agreed to cooperate with the government. That means he will likely testify against his co-defendants, including the leader of the group who is expected to go on trial later this year. No doubt, the country will be watching.

Facing sedition charges? Contact us.

If you have been accused of sedition in North Texas or are facing charges stemming from the Capitol riot, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced federal defense attorney. Rest assured, the government is going to bring all of their resources to bear on this case. Our team has extensive experience defending federal criminal charges. Call 817-203-2220 for a free consultation.

Varghese Summersett is a premier criminal defense firm based in Fort Worth, Texas. Our attorneys focus exclusively on criminal law and represent clients charged with crimes at both the state and federal level. We handle everything from DWI to capital murder to white collar crime. Collectively, our attorneys bring together more than 100 years of criminal law experience and have tried more than 550 cases before Texas juries. All of our senior attorneys served as former state or federal prosecutors and four are Board Certified in Criminal law, the highest designation an attorney can reach. We are the firm people turn to when the stakes are high and they are facing the biggest problem in their lives. - Contact Varghese at  
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