Paul A. Hodgkins, the first person to have pleaded guilty to a single felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding before Congress by storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the intention of stopping the certification of the Electoral College vote, was sentenced to eight months in prison in what could serve as an indicator for scores of similar cases, reports the New York Times. Presiding Judge Randolph D. Moss said there needed to be “severe consequences” for the attack, but also noted that Hodgkins, a 38-year-old Florida crane operator, was a first-time offender and had pleaded guilty early. Those circumstances will apply to only some of the other defendants who are facing similar charges.
Hodgkins’s sentence was less than half of the 18 months the government had asked for but more than the request made by his lawyer, Patrick Leduc, for no time in prison. The obstruction count he was charged with is a felony and allowed prosecutors to ask for prison time but not use the more politically inflammatory crimes of sedition or insurrection. During the hearing, a prosecutor, Mona Sedky, said the government wanted to “frame” the charges against Hodgkins as an act of domestic terrorism to deter future attacks. But Sedky also said prosecutors were not seeking a formal sentencing enhancement for a crime of terror. Prosecutors have thus far struggled with how to apply fair standards of justice to hundreds of people who did different things and bore different levels of culpability.