Conspiring to Overthrow The Government
Sedition has been defined as a conspiracy to engage in an unlawful act, such as treason or insurrection.
In other words, if two or more people have plans to take over the government, they may be charged with seditious conspiracy.
A notable example is the attempted takeover of the U.S. Capitol by the ‘Proud Boys’ and others on January 6th, 2021. This is the greatest example in the United States history of someone trying to seize the federal government. Fortunately, their efforts were not successful.
The law states:
If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.
General Requirements for Federal Law
Elements of seditious conspiracy include:
- Conspiring to overthrow or destroy by force the government of the United States or to level war against them.
- Opposing by force the authority of the United States government; to prevent, hinder, or delay by force the execution of any law of the United States; or
- Taking, seizing, or possessing by force any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof.
Conviction for Seditious Conspiracy
The government must prove that the defendant in fact conspired to use force. The mere fact of suggesting the use of force is not the same thing and in most cases is protected as free speech under the First Amendment.
For example, if a person suggests “a revolution by any means necessary”, it is not an attempt to conspire to overthrow the government. However, the actual planning which may consist of intentionally opposing law enforcement, disturbing weapons and planning an intense plans for the their attack which may be used to overthrow the government may be considered a seditious conspiracy.
There must be some sort of planned action for seditious conspiracy to be validated.
The primary goal of the law is to prevent real threats against the United States while making sure that First Amendment rights are protected. This includes following the letter of the law and making sure that one’s constitutional rights are not infringed upon.
Sedition differs from treason (defined in Article III of the U.S. Constitution) in a fundamental way. While seditious conspiracy is generally defined as conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of a state, treason is the more serious offense of actively levying war against the United States or giving aid to its enemies.
Seditious conspiracy often occurs before an act of treason.
January 6th, 2021: A Pivotal Moment in US History
January 6th is the most notable example of a seditious conspiracy. President Donald Trump, angry and distraught over the 2020 presidential election, attempted to disrupt the peaceful transition of power to Joe Biden by having Mike Pence refuse to certify the election results. This is after he had exhausted his efforts legally in the courts, losing dozens of cases.
Mike Pence did not refuse the transfer of power, and the angry mob of seditionists marched to the Capitol chanting “hang Mike Pence”, subsequently seizing the Capitol building. Some even smeared feces in the hallways.
Nine people lost their lives as a result of January 6th.
Trump continued to lie to the American public and indicated that the 2020 election had been stolen from him. Truthfully, there was no credibility to Trump’s claims, and there is evidence that he was well aware that he lost, yet continued to defraud the American public with claims of a ‘stolen election‘.
Trump was adamant about the continuous false claims of election irregularities and said, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
This was the worst attack on the presidency ever know in American history, and it is still being written as the January 6th hearings continue.
Watch The January 6th Select Committee Hearing:
Punishment for Seditious Conspiracy
‘Seditious Conspiracy’ is a serious felony punishable by significant fines and up to 20 years in federal prison.
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Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.