This past Monday, a man from Florida who was charged with a felony for his taking part in the breaching of the Senate chamber at the United States Capitol during a riot on January 5th has finally received their sentence of eight months in jail.
Paul Allard Hodgkins, aged 38, was the first person that had been charged with a felony to be sentenced by the courts.
As part of his appearance before the court, Hodgkins spouted out an apology to the court, going on to say that he is regretful of his actions and was merely just caught up in the moment as a mob swarmed into the Capitol to protest the final certification of Old Uncle Joe as the official winner of the 2020 presidential election.
“If I had any idea that the protest … would escalate (the way) it did … I would never have ventured farther than the sidewalk of Pennsylvania Avenue,” Hodgkins stated to the judge, as reported by The Associated Press. “This was a foolish decision on my part.”
As part of an agreement with prosecutors, Hodgkins pleaded guilty to a count of obstructing an official proceeding, which is a felony that can impose up to a 20-year prison sentence. The prosecution team made the argument for an extended 19- month sentence, going on to say in one of their court filings that Hodgkins, “like each rioter, contributed to the collective threat to democracy” by forcing legislators to abort the certification of the recently elected president.
As stated by the AP:
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said that, while Hodgkins didn’t engage in violence himself, he walked among many who did — in what she called “the ransacking of the People’s House.” And as he walked by smashed police barriers, he could see the smoke of tear gas and the chaos ahead of him.
“What does he do?” she asked the court. “He walks toward it. He doesn’t walk away.”
She added that Hodgkins was in the midst of a mob that forced lawmakers to seek shelter and some congressional staffers to hide in fear, locked in officers as hundreds swept through the building. Those in fear for their lives that day will, she said, “bear emotional scars for many years — if not forever.”
Despite all of this, Hodgkins was not accused of assaulting officers or damaging property, and prosecutors made the case that he took responsibility for his actions by pleading guilty to the obstruction charge. However, the prosecution team also stated that when he boarded a bus that was heading to Washington, D.C. he had in his possession a rope, protective goggles, and latex gloves in his backpack, which they implied showed that he meant to be prepared for violence.
In response, Hodgkins’ law team pleaded with the judge to go east on Hodgkins, stating that his actions will already haunt him for the rest of his life.
The actions taken by Hodgkins back on January 6th “is the story of a man who for just one hour on one day lost his bearings … who made a fateful decision to follow the crowd,” stated Patrick N. Leduc, his lawyer.